Sunday, December 25, 2011

Disneyland - Jungle Is "101" - A Christmas Greeting

Before the end of this blessed Christmas Day, allow me to extend a "Merry Christmas" to all of our Jungle is "101" friends, both inside and outside the Berm.
The holiday season and demands of the workplace have kept this old skipper hopping faster than he could type, so blog entries have been as scarce as an African albino pygmy gorilla.
Fret not, friends.
More stories, lore and blithering incoherency are on their way in the coming year.
Here's to 2012 and hoping the Mayans aren't right!
For now, during this season, a toast to all that is loving, kind, redemptive, patient, reproving, orderly, just, intelligent, good, perfect and perfectible.
A cup of joy to the whole race of our brothers and sisters across this small planet!
Peace be with each of you!

As for me, it's time for a dead head, so the throttle's forward, my cares are aft, the teeming Jungle awaits.
I'll be back around in about 10 minutes!
You just wait there patiently at the dock until my return.
Try not to crowd.
Don't all rush the queue at once.
There's room for everyone!
If not, we'll have the first group lie down and start in on the second layer.
Merry Christmas!!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Disneyland - The Park This Christmas Season

Hey!  It's been pretty cold in Southern California.
Our last three trips to Disneyland were chilly, making the Christmas atmosphere all the more cozy!
Indeed, we were there this past Saturday.
Arriving at around 5:40 p.m., the wind was blowing and the tram ride from the parking lot was made even colder.
It was the night of the Candlelight Procession on Main Street, so the main entrance and Town Square were a bit of a mess from a traffic standpoint.
Still, it was fabulous to see all the guests bundled in scarves, sweaters, knit caps, gloves and coats.
The line for Small World wrapped round the bullpen set up southeast of the attraction's main entrance.
We waited in it for about 25-30 minutes, but actually had an enjoyable time.
It was great to people watch and the line keeps moving.
Plus, with all the lights and decorations lighting up the area at night there was plenty to see as we waited.
A warm cup of coffee and some Pepperidge Farm gingerbread cookies we brought along with us added to the holiday spirit and atmosphere.
It was crowded, but the crowd was in a cheerful mood.
The littlest ones with their caps, scarves and gloves were fun to watch.
Big eyes looking out from under jacket hoods.
Little booted feet.
Some resembled wayward elves.
Others Christmas fairies.
We enjoyed just walking around the Park and taking it all in.
My youngest daughter joined me for a swing dance over at Plaza Gardens.
The band was great!
We warmed ourselves on the porch of the Rancho del Zocalo over some more coffee (and peppermint bark!).
The heaters they have over there are something.
Heck, we had to shed some scarves and jackets and ultimately moved to a table a bit further away as our chocolate was starting to melt!
Should still be cool at Disneyland this coming weekend, so if you are within range (and aren't blocked out), I would highly recommend stopping by for some true Christmas spirit or pre-Hannukah (Dec. 20 -28th) joy, for that matter.
Hannukah, the eight day festival of light of the Jewish faith tradition, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration and of spirituality over materiality.
Not so sure Disneyland is an exact fit on that last one, but it sure is full of light these days!!
Anyhow, my best wishes to everyone in this wondrous season!
Many happy returns to the Happiest Place on Earth!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Disneyland - The Park At Christmas - Part II

Today we have photographs from Sunday night's trip to Disneyland.
We begin and end on Main Street.
Where would you find these idyllic holiday scenes?

 Answer: the south windows of The Emporium, shown below from a distance.
And a view of the tree on Town Square.

Next - the garland over the Fire House and the Christmas tree in Walt's apartment window above.

 Finally, City Hall.
Just a few snippets, but you get the flavor!

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Remember, if you find yourself passing by the Jungle Cruise later on tonight---we understand completely!

Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Disneyland - The Park at Christmas

We went to Disneyland last night.
All was right in the Magic Kingdom.
Not too busy.
The decorations are splayed everywhere, from flickering candles adorning the Haunted Mansion to lighted garland above the Fire House.
We browsed the shops this visit, picking up an engraved gift at Crystal Arts on Main Street.
Iced coffee at the Blue Ribbon Bakery.
Popcorn from the cart in New Orleans Square - across from the French Market patio.
A walk up the recently refurbished Treehouse, which definitely received a lighting upgrade.
The view from the boughs of the Mansion and Thunder and the Castle were worth the climb.
Splash Mountain was sore for customers, which is not a shock given the cool night air and guests opting to avoid drenched clothes and shoes by remaining comfortably dry off the Mountain.
This night, it appeared the folks voting for "dry" were in the majority.
Found a nice, warm spot to watch the fireworks and the five of us enoyed the display.
Never gets old.
I must say I was surprised they let the show go off, since the winds at elevation were moving.
The fireworks were blowing pretty fiercely from east to west, their incendiary bursts and smoke racing through the sky toward Frontierland.
Most times when the winds were that swift, there would be an early finish or an outright cancellation.
It is still a well done show and it ended with "snow" on Main Street.
My youngest bolted to enjoy the falling flakes, her older brother in pursuit---to make sure she did not disappear forever in the Main Street crowd.
He manned his post well and returned with his sister intact.
Score another for this skipper's clan of Park veterans!
For the many readers (two, I believe, out of our four loyal fans) who reside out of state, I am happy to report the Park is as pretty as ever.
Later, I'll post some phots for you all.
Stay merry, my friends!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Disneyland - Belated Happy Thanksgiving - Early Merry Christmas!

I haven't posted for the past week or so because I was in the midst of a wrongful death jury trial in downtown Los Angeles. 
As counsel for the defendant, I was a touch too busy to post.
The jury issued a verdict in favor of my client after a week of trial.
I even managed to work the Peoplemover into my jury selection and closing argument!
Ah, the joy of having a Disneyland background.
Helps keep the jurors awake.
Okay - semi-awake.
Anyhow, we have all had our Thanksgiving and today is Black Friday.
Guess we should pack up our pepper spray and hit the Wal-Marts, Targets and Best Buys of the world.
Anyone tries to grab that deeply discounted item you're reaching for?
Spray 'em into next week!
That's the Christmas spirit!
Heaven must weep at our hapless human species.
Hey, at least the folks that brought you two world wars, a Holocaust and atomic weapons are also responsible for good wine, violin symphonies, poetry, art...and Disneyland!
It really is an unlikely place in this wacked out world of ours, isn't it?
Who would have ever believed that this former Anaheim orange grove could be transformed into the Magic Kingdom?
Frankly, only a group of artists, daydreamers and craftsmen like those Walt Disney assembled could have EVER pulled off a stunt like Disneyland.
Many of those responsible are still scratching their heads.
How'd we manage to do it??
Ours, dear Jungle fans, is not to reason why.
We are merely to soldier forth onto Main Street and through New Orleans Square and beyond---experiencing the magnificent place that so many people's imaginations helped to make a reality.
This Thanksgiving we begin, as always, by thanking God for our very lives, our families, and our many blessings---those we see and those we carelessly overlook.
Allow me to add a prayer of thankfulness for the power of imagination, the gift of joy, the capacity to wonder and the faculty of creativity.
These are gifts of light in a world that might otherwise sink hopelessly into tarry darkness.
May your life be filled with such gifts, fellow travelers!
As we march forward into the Christmas season, please accept this old skipper's sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas!
This is a simple greeting and wish meant to communicate universal concepts of joy, love and peace, regardless of the cultural, racial or religious background of the recipient.
And I extend it to you whether you hail from the banks of the Nile in Egypt, the teeming jungles of the Amazon, the humid forests of the Mekong, the steep canyons of the Yangtze, the Colorado or Columbia, the idyllic hillsides of the Rhine or the Danube, the soaring edifices abutting the Hudson, the Thames or the Seine, the realm of the mystic Ganges, the plains along the Irrawady and the Congo, the green wetlands along the Tigris and Euphrates, the muddy edges of the Mississippi or Missouri or Ohio, Allegheny or Monongahela, on either side of the damp concrete channel known as the Los Angeles River, or "home on the Ana" along the Santa Ana River in Anaheim, or from the dusty deserts of Yemen, Tunisia, northern Mexico, the Australian Outback, the American Southwest, or northern and central Africa, or come from the high mountain areas of the Andes, the Rockies, the Alps, the Urals, the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, Sierra Madre, the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro or Akaishi Mountains, or from the great and rolling plains of the Dakotas, Deosai, western Siberia, northeastern China, the Pampas, Nullarbor in Australia, Canterbury Plains of New Zealand, the Steppes of Russia and Mongolia or the Canadian Prairies.

It is, after all...

...a small, small world.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Disneyland - Circle Vision and Rod Miller

As I walked by my 1983 map of the Park, which is matted, framed and hung on a hallway wall, my eye caught the rounded rooftop of the old Circle Vision attraction in Tomorrowland.
Buzz Lightyear resides there now.
In my Custodial days, sweeping through the pre-show and Circle Vision theater provided welcome relief from hot July shifts in Tomorrowland.
The pre-show area was expansive and cool.  The air conditioning was wonderful.
I would always say hello to the attraction operators and make a quick sweep and trash check.
Between shows I would sweep through the theater (about once every hour or so).
Sometimes I'd slip in with the guests and take in the show!
Those who got to experience it know that there is nothing like it.
I was fortunate enough to have seen both the original version and the American Journeys version---snippets of which are shown below in this YouTube posting from "Celli0905."

Even saw several showings of The Wonders of China there in that theater-in-the-round.
I miss that attraction.
Think of what they could do today!
HD cameras.
I bet they could build an unbroken 360 degree screen and really blow your mind with shots and scenes from throughout this great land.
C'est la vie.
I close with this.
In my days in the Jungle, whenever I'd head over to the Inn Between for lunch or to Wardrobe at the close of my shift, I would pass through the door over by the Candy Palace and Coke Corner.
Most of the time, I'd get to walk right by this gentleman and his piano.
Get a load of Rod Miller just doin' his thing...

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Many thanks to HarborHouse55 who posted this originally!!!
'Course, I got to see him "live" five days a week and it didn't cost me anything to get in the gate!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Disneyland - I wish real life were more like it..

I wish real life were more like Disneyland.
First of all, things would be cleaner.
There'd be theme music in the background.
You could always find a trash can.
Or a bathroom.
Or an interesting attraction.
Most folks would be smiling.
Several would have name tags, so you'd know whom to ask for help.
There would also be a map.
Of course, the food would be subpar.
But you could could walk to everything.
Sure, there would be lines, but we'd have FastPasses, too.
The surroundings would be safe.
No weapons, except the harmless rifles in the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, plastic Swords in the Pirate shop and an occasional Buzz Lightyear ray gun.
The whole family would have fun together, or go off on their own if they needed a break.
"We'll meet back at the Castle in an hour, or text where and when you want to meet!"
Things would be accessible to everybody, even if you have a disability or a condition that might otherwise limit your ability to participate.
We'd have those, too.
And a Skyway (while we're at it).
The tour guides would wear plaid.
No Congress.
Abe Lincoln would be our president.
Every night in the summer.
Dole whips for the whole bar!
You can bump the car ahead of you and no one gets hurt or sues.
Disney dollars and no mortgage or global economic collapse.
There's a Hub where we can all meet and no one is disputing land boundaries.
Tomorrowlanders do not suicide bomb Fantasylanders.
West Siders would still have a justifiable superiority complex, though.  Some things are just a given.
No hospital.
We have Central First Aid on Main Street.
The weather's nice most of the year.
Everything is decorated for the holidays.
You should see the place on Christmas!
We would all be either Cast Members or guests.
We could even trade off.
Lots of flowers.
In well-kept beds.
No TV.
No Internet.
Dixieland Jazz and our very own marching band.
Kids.  Plenty of kids.
Age doesn't matter.
Shade and benches aplenty.
Crowds. I could do without crowds.
Still it is better when we share.
And I'm just wondering out loud here.

Where would everyone sleep?

As we say in Disneyland,
"Ride's over.  Get out."


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Disneyland - Happy New 5th!

Friends of ours were at Disneyland this past Saturday and were treated to a film crew doing "live" shots from the Park for "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest."
Ryan Seacrest was there, along with some of the young actors from "A.N.T. Farm," a Disney Channel television show.
More importantly, Main Street U.S.A. was shut down for extended periods while the crew did take after take.
Several guests caught in the chaos were literally held hostage as the director wanted a crowd to film.
At one point, you could barely move and the main entrance was jammed with people as the parade sat in place on Town Square.
Imagine a parade at Disneyland that is not moving.
Now imagine thousands of people trying to weave their way up and down the narrow passages of the Main Street Shops because the street and sidewalks are blocked off and/or crammed with guests.
Near riot.
Happiest place on earth ranking in jeopardy.
Moms close to tears are stuck against a rope pleading with the director to let them pass through.
"I've been standing here for 40 minutes!!" she shouts over her crying toddler, who lost interest about 39 minutes earlier.
"I need everyone to show enthusiasm for this next take!" the director bellows into his megaphone.
Steely stares and angry murmurs bounce back at him from the guests and extras lining Main Street.
The cast---whose faces reflect boredom and irritation between takes---instantly turns their respective visages to smiling, saccharine, pseudo-happy configurations for the rolling video cameras.
"Okay.  Let's try that again.  I really need excitement from the crowd.  Come on."
More steely stares.
Less excitement.
Another take.
Meanwhile, up on the Hub, the crowd gathered in front of the stage at the Castle forecourt is actually doing a fine job of acting enthusiastically.
You can hear the roar when the director urges everyone to "Get excited!  Let's hear you!"
The "Rockin' New Year's Eve - "Live"" stage lights up and Mr. Seacrest excitedly prepares the crowd to greet 2012.
Only 1,398 hours before midnight!
Talk about building excitement.
It must be weird to be at a New Year's Eve party with Ryan Seacrest and turn on the TV.
As you sip from your drink and much on shrimp and puff pastry appetizers, your buddy Ryan (who's standing next to you in the buffet line) appears on the screen '"Live" (recorded earlier)' from Disneyland.
Neat trick, Ryan.
How'd you manage that one?
Only in Hollywood.
Hope we didn't ruin the New Year's moment for you.
That "(Recorded earlier)" on the bottom of your television screen does NOT mean, an hour earlier because, say, you are in a different time zone.
More like two months earlier.
Cue the confetti and balloon drop.
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to m-i-i-i-i-i-nd...."
Wait, wait.
"Okay.  Let's try that again.  I really need excitement from the crowd.  Come on."

As for me, allow me to be the first to wish you a Happy November 8th!!!
Let this post be a lesson: Disneyland during a film shoot is chaotic and definitely not its normal self.
May you avoid one on your next trip inside the berm.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Disneyland - Live Trip Report - November 4, 2011

8:50 p.m. - East Center Street - Market House. I am standing at the north doors, just below the "Detective Agency - We Never Sleep - W. Dennis Cottrell - Private Investigator" window.
My daughter is earnestly listening in on an 1890 party line conversation.
Ah, the many times I've step beyond the door here to and the back area.
It's a nice, slow night. Main Street is wide open---even the shops. There's only three people ahead of me as I step into Market House for some coffee.
Can you smell that? Hmmmm.
Vanessa is at the counter, her 1-year pin on her name tag. Quite Disney. A pleasant testament to Cast Memberdom!
The crisp night air and the warm cup join with the half moon almost straight overhead as I sit with my daughter at the tables that front the southern wall of Disney Clothiers Ltd.
Carnation Cafe's red and white umbrellas are just there across Main Street and the sparkling lights ant-trail across the "Fortuosity Shop."
We've visited the Haunted Mansion and said hello to Mr. Skellington. The kid liked it. know ME.
Still, it was entertaining and we had a good time.
We then took in Winne the Pooh.
Happy to report that Max, Buff and Melvin (at least one set of them) remain hung on the wall behind you as you get near the end of the attraction. Keep looking back and up.
You'll see them.
From Pooh, we walked through New Orleans Square, with its holiday decorations sneaking into view.
Back through Adventureland and on to Main Street. Popcorn at the Hub and then a stroll toward Town Square.
And here I am.
The little one is off to the Penny Arcade...with $1.60.
She could be there for hours.
As for YOU...
Wish you were here.

Disneyland - Live (kinda sorta)

At 6:45 p.m. we arrived at the Rancho del Zocalo, after squirming through the remains of the parade over on Main Street.
Fish tacos for me, kid's bean and cheese burrito for my 8 year old.

Modern Disneyland Touring Tip ("MDTT") #313: on a cold night, grab dinner or a snack at the Rancho del Zocalo and sit under the covered veranda. They have heaters! Cozy, eh?

Thunder's down, it appears from here.
Love the many star-shaped lanterns hanging above. They scatter interesting shadows on the ceiling.
The little one gets to pick where we go (her big sister is here with several friends from high school and this old skipper won the privilege of driving and chaperoning the crew!).

Oh.  Thunder's back up.  Guess what she chose?

THANKS JUNGLETEERS! See you at the Park tonight!

Wow!  You guys are fabulous!
After yesterday's post your efforts to get the word out have increased our readership by 50 percent!
We have gone from four (4) to almost six (6) readers!
See the power we possess when we work together!

Tonight this blog will travel with me to Disneyland!
I will try a first-ever "live" post from the Park (if I can get this darn antenna to connect to my typewriter).
It should be cold and maybe a little damp.
Just the way we like it!
Can I pick up anything for you while I'm there?
Antenna ball?
Rock candy from the Candy Palace?
I am betting there'll be cocoa or coffee in my future!
Let me know. I'll check back in with you in a couple hours once we're inside the Berm!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Disneyland - Jungle Is "101" - A Maniacal Plan To Quadruple or Quintuple Our Readership!! Who's With Me?!

It's never too early for a "Greatest Hits" album.
For newbies to Jungle is "101" we provide this once in a lifetime opportunity to get all of this blog's "one hit wonders" in a single post. 
Call it our Top Ten.
More importantly, this is our chance to expand the blog's readership from our four (4) devotees (Hi, Mom!), to possibly 16 or 20!
Think of it.
Together we could quadruple or quintuple the number of people who have been exposed to (or follow) this, ahem, "unique" collection of stories from an old Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper and Custodial sweeper.

Here's the plan, gang.

We'll put on a show and save the orphanage!
Whoops.  That's the plot to a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney film.

No, the real plan is this: all YOU have to do, my four (4) amazing readers is e-mail four to five friends, loved ones, relatives or people who annoy you and send them a link to this blog's address: ""
If each of them takes you up on your e-mail offer to check out this blog, our readership---for one glorious day, will go up precipitously.
It's like a Ponzi scheme or Amway!  (is there a difference?)
Give it a whirl.
Copy the link above and e-mail it to some friends who might find this stuff of moderate interest.
Disney fans, for example.
There's no obligation, of course.
It's not like I haven't been here for you, toiling in the moist Adventureland heat, digging up old photos and memories, clacking away at my Underwood..
Don't mind me.
If you want to pass along this site, that's entirely up to you.
Of course, the other three (3) readers are doing it.
No pressure.
You don't have to do it, but if you don't you can't hang out with us anymore!
Come on!
Try it.  Everyone's doing it!
It'll expand your consciousness!
Don't tell us you're chicken!

Once I again, as I do so often around here, I have completely digressed.

As promised, here are links to some of this blog's Top Ten greatest hits to be shared with whomever you decide to inflict them upon:
  1. The Haunted Mansion's Real Ghost
  2. Pepperoni Tony!
  3. Alone on Tom Sawyer's Island (Part I)
  4. Alone on Tom Sawyer's Island (Part II)
  5. Unload Corn
  6. Mickey's In The Well!
  7. On Being A West Side Cast Member
  8. The Jungle Princess
  9. The Bench 
  10. Dead Head On A Slow Night
This list is not scientific, nor is it exhaustive.  You may have your own favorites.  No problem.
Cut and paste these links into your e-mails and maybe someone else will join our ragtag group!

Today ---- four (4) devoted readers.

Tomorrow---THE WORLD!!

I love each of you.

You know what to do.

Adieu, for now, mon ami!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Disneyland - Random Jungle Stuff - Load and Intro

Greetings and welcome aboard the Jungle Cruise!
I am SO glad to see each and every one of you.
Watch your step as you come on board.
Hey, as you're boarding, I'm standing here thinking, whattayou call a guy who stands on the river's edge next to the boat?
How 'bout the guy who makes announcements over the intercom?
The one who oils our boat's engine?
The girl who catches all the butterflies for us while we're on this expedition?
Why, that's "Annette."
A net!
Oh that's rich.
See that gentleman loading our last few victims into the back of the boat?
He's also in charge of fueling us up.
We call him "Phil."
You'll want to steer clear of his brother, the guy who collects spears from the local natives, I say spears from the local natives.
His name is "Chuck."
And, our personal favorite here in the Jungle, the gal who cleans up after the elephants in the meadow...
Believe me, she's a pile of fun!
Speaking of names, mine is "Mike" and I have the honor of being your humble skipper, guide, bartender and lounge act for the entire duration of our trip along the murky rivers of the jungle.
Sit well back in your seats, take hold of small children, loved ones and cameras.
Now that we are completely loaded, it only seems fitting that we'll plunge ahead into the teeming jungle.
In fact, that's the only way I know how to enter the Jungle...fully and completely loaded.
Turn around, wave goodbye to those poor folks we're leaving behind on the dock.
I say "poor" because they missed being on OUR boat---simply the greatest, most excitement-filled, most luxurious, best appointed, most-well stocked and most unpredictable boat in all the Jungle---everyone shout "YEAAAAAA!"
Go ahead, make it look like you're having the time of your lives!  Come on, really sell it!
Fabulous.  You folks are like family.  It's like I've known you my whole life.  You feel the bond?  Powerful stuff.
As we enter the Jungle, a safety reminder, remain seated, keep your hands, arms, legs and nostrils inside the boat at all times and watch your children.
Speaking of children, you know what we call an unwatched child in the Jungle?
Sometimes "Tiger Nip," or "Kibbles and Bits" or "Hyena Chow."
Most of the carnivores in the Jungle LOVE children.
But enough of that...this young lady up front is starting to look a little nervous...
Don't worry sweetie, I'll protect you.
Hmmm.  She does not look too convinced.
Three toucans.
Three toucans, otherwise known as...
a six pack.
Which brings to the ruins of an ancient Cambodian shrine, destroyed centuries ago by an earthquake, it has almost been completely overtaken by the Jungle.
There on our left is a truly magnificent specimen---a full-grown, male Bengal Tiger.  Isn't he something?  Weighing over 800 pounds, with razor sharp fangs and claws, he can easily leap over 20 feet and....he eats small of my FAVORITE animals of the jungle.
(Turning again to the six year old girl to my left) It's okay, sweetie, like I said, I'll protect you.
Look there!
Snakes?  Why does it always have to be SNAKES?
That stone sculpture is Ganesha the Elephant God and he marks the beginning of the world famous Elephant Bathing Pool.
Look at all the elephants!
Big shots.
Little squirts.
See that one with the private shower?  He's special.  Weighing over 800 pounds, with razor sharp fangs and claws, he can easily leap over 20 feet and....he eats small of my FAVORITE animals of the jungle.
Whoa!  This guy has gotten away from the rest of the herd and LOVES to squirt my boats.
Stopped just in time.  That was close!
(The elephant fails to squirt...surprise).
I am totally and completely kidding.
That's just a little DRY humor.
Sir, in the back, with the serious face...I said DRY humor!
Hey, I don't write these, I just say 'em folks.
Uh oh.
Uh. Ohhhhh.
I have a BAD feeling about this.
Everyone.  Keep very still.
If you are wearing yellow, do not make any noise like a banana---
It drives these guys APE.
Heck, they might even find you...
(Long pause for effect...I stare back at my crew with a "What??" kinda look on my face, then a slightly guilty smile over the microphone).
I'd like to thank the gentleman in the back for laughing at the banana joke.
Thanks a BUNCH.
(I turn and look expectantly at my boatload of guests with the same "What?" kinda look and the smile over the mic once more).
You know what, you're right.
I shouldn't've let that "bunch" joke SLIP.
Enough with the banana stuff, I think we better SPLIT!
(Groans.  I turn and look with an excessive mock injured look on my face).
But seriously, those gorillas are amazing creatures.
See that one with the rifle?  Weighing over 800 pounds, with razor sharp fangs and claws, he can easily leap over 20 feet and....he eats small of my FAVORITE animals of the jungle.

I mean, let's face it what good are groaners in the Jungle if you don't milk them?!

Oh, there's more, but I have a feeling you may have heard it all somewhere before...



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Disneyland - Cast Activities Center, Versateller, Herbie Hill

Snooping around the internet, I once again came across an '80's era video clip posted by Jeff Hawkins of parts of the Main Street back area, including the Cast Activities Center, the BofA Versateller (to think I was once a Bank of America customer!), Herbie Hill, Harbor House and the old Cast Member Parking Lot.
The video captures these areas and the kinds of goofy stuff cast members did when left to their own devices.

I find myself looking over people's shoulders into the background of the shots, my eye seeking out the details.
You see people in orange Parking Lot costumes, I see the Cast Activities Center and the glass doors I entered so many, many times.
I hit that Versateller ATM at the end of lots of shifts---before heading out to whatever our destination may have been for some post-work fun.
I emptied those "bullet can" trash cans way back when I worked in Day Custodial.
To us in the back area, a good chunk of Space Mountain was BLUE. You can see its blue lower, rear wall flash by there behind the ATM in the video.
As the Parking Lot crew is on their way out of the back area, they drive by the old Wardrobe building. You can see a Security cast member heading to or from the Security office.
Just before they make a right turn down Herbie Hill, you can ahead see Outdoor Vending on the left (along the back side of Space Mountain and Tomorrowland) and the old locker building on the right.
they then drive past Harbor House, which you can barely see on the right as they bounce down the hill under the covered trestle of the Disneyland Railroad.
Then they head out to to Parking Lot (another bygone thing of beauty) to head toward the Disneyland marquee, which they indicate is about to come down.  Oh the humanity.
Eisner.  Ack.
Here is Part II of the video.

I'd ask you to take a close look at the Disney Cast Members. See those nice, crisp costumes? No frumpy, take-it-home-and-wash-it-yourself stuff back then!
And look at the people!
It's 6:00 a.m., but they are smiling, happy, enjoying themselves and each other's company. They are a family.
They are also a pretty fit, clean cut group.

My thanks for Jeff for posting these. Perhaps you Jungle followers may recognize an old friend or fellow CM in the videos.
Even if you don't, the video gives you yet another slice of what life was like in the Park.

Happy All Saints Day!


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)

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.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Disneyland - Trader Sam's - World Of Color and General Trifles

I finally made it to Trader Sam's tiki bar over at the Disneyland Hotel.  Several times, actually.
The bar looks like the Jungle Cruise crashed into the Tiki Room --- what's not to love?
Tiki drinks, Disney style.
Order a Shipwreck or an Uh-oa.
The bar lights up with special effects.
One of them made possible from fellow blogger Kevin Kidney - who designed the "ship in a bottle" above the bar.  It is a replica of a certain ship floating down in the caverns of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Here's Kevin's post about his (and Jody Daily's) involvement.  Once again, Kevin and Jody are amazing!
The Shipwreck drink itself?
I heartily endorse the Uh-oa.
After a couple of these, you soon echo the sentiments of our dear friend Koro, the midnight dancer:
"Today my magic feet no move.  My head sore.  But last night all tiki gods had BIG time.  SOME luau!  When drums begin to pound, (your) head full BIIIIG SOUND!"
Some views of the interior of Trader Sam's are set forth below for your edification and enjoyment.
The bar is cozy.  There is a porch outside the bar, but it is pretty warm during the day.  I would probably wait until dusk or evening before taking a seat out there.
 The "ship in a bottle" is on the shelf above the liquor bottles near the center of the photograph.
From our table just inside the entrance doors, here is the view looking toward the west wall of Trader Sam's.  Lamps, tiki totems, Jungle Cruise photos and bamboo are a banquet for the eyes of an old skipper and West-sider.  It's a good thing this place wasn't around back in the 1980s.  2/3rds or more of our opening crew would have never made it into work!
Along the walls are plenty of framed prints and pseudo-mementos, such as the example below.   
Overall, Trader Sam's is worth a visit (or five)---especially if you are staying on site and don't need to drive home!  Be sure and stop by.  Give Sam my best!
Great bartender.
Bit of a head case.
A real "people person" though.
Not a vegan.
He really wants to serve you.
So, don't get too close to the large kettle in the back.

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped by the "other" park and actually sat down to take in World of Color.  Staying at the Grand Californian, we were able to be the first into the park to get FastPasses for the event.  We got the "Blue" section and, thanks to a hot tip, we were told the best spot to take in the show was along the bridge that leads across the water towards Ariel's Grotto.
I snapped the shots below from our vantage point on the bridge as evening fell upon us.
We were treated to a gorgeous sunset. 
 Once evening set in, Mickey shone brilliantly from the - ahem - Ferris Wheel ("Don't worry, Lilly, my Park isn't going to be dirty like a carnival.").

And here is a shot of the World of Color show in progress---as you can see, we had some of the best seats in the house---short of grabbing a table at Ariel's Grotto.
World of Color hints No. 1, 2, 3 and 4:

1.  Stay at one of the resort hotels---preferably Grand Californian---you get into the Park early (if you are there on the right day) so you can be among the first to get WOC FastPasses.

2.  Get in line EARLY at the hotel entrance gate for California Adventure (just past the Napa Rose in the Grand Californian).  The line presently forms before DCA opens.
THERE (in line for the hotel entrance to DCA).

3.  As for the show itself - GET TO THE SHOW AREA EARLY.  Get to the rope at the bridge leading to Ariel's Grotto (between the Little Mermaid attraction and Ariel's Grotto) well, well, well BEFORE the scheduled showing of World of Color that you are attending.  Be among the first along the rope so you can pick out your spot when it drops.  Hold hands.  Cling to each other.  The massive horde behind you WILL stampede you and tear at your party like charging bull elephants.

4.  Bring a blanket or two to lay out on the ground and mark your spot (anything that can help you stake out territory from all the "last minute Larrys" who WILL inevitably show up just before showtime and try to hone in on your personal space).

That is all for now, dear readers.
You guys are fabulous!
Keep up the good work!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Disneyland - Club 33 and I meet Anne

My family and I went to stay at the Grand Californian during the last week of July.  A Grand time was had by all.  We made the most of our week, dropping by Trader Sam's over at the Disneyland Hotel, giving Steakhouse 55 a try, finally braving the crowds for a---believe it or not---FIRST time ever viewing of "World of Color," stepping aboard the new Star Tours and taking in lunch at Club 33.

Oh!  While walking through the Park during our visit, I spotted a young woman wearing a "Jungle Is 101" t-shirt as I entered the Plaza from Adventureland.  "Hey!  Nice shirt!" I called out.  The young woman was with two of her friends and she looked at me.  "I'm MIKE, the Jungle is 101 blogger."  
"I'm Anne."
"ANNE!!  Nice to meet you!  Are you guys having fun?!  I'm here with my family."
Anne has been one of this blog's 4 (four) readers for quite some time now.
She was very nice and said she wears her Jungle is 101 shirt to the Park often.
It was an absolute treat to meet a reader in person.
Quite a rare event, since I figure I've got about a 4-in-8 billion chance (3-in-8-billion if you exclude my mom!) of actually meeting someone who reads this stuff.
Anne seemed remarkably cogent and normal for a "Jungle is 101" devotee!
Anne, it was very nice to meet you!

Now, where was I?
Ah, lunch at Club 33.
For you Disneyland-o-philes, Club 33 is something you have heard about many times.  I imagine a few of you have made it up there for lunch or dinner.
As for the few who have no idea what Club 33 is---here's a link.
We took in the Club for an 11:30 a.m. lunch.  
Here is a photo-essay of the visit.
The number of the club, the mysterious "33" is said to relate to Walt Disney having been a member of the Freemasons.  The 33rd degree of Freemasonry is the highest.  Here is a video tour of the Club. 
We arrive at the red main entry and board the elevator shown below (those are my daughters inside) for a lift to the second floor dining area.
My wife and I took the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, you can see into the Trophy Room.
To your left (but not shown) is an ornate leaded glass telephone booth that was a prop or set element from "The Happiest Millionaire."
The entire Club interior was designed by Emile Kuri---the famous Hollywood set designer who also has his own window on Main Street.
Here is the main dining room.
And here, the main corridor, with bar (right) and buffet.  The marble-topped table on the left was featured in Mary Poppins.  Cher-ooo!
The main upstairs entrance corridor.  Ahead and to your left is the ladies' restroom.
As you round the corner at the top of the stairs, the men's room is to your left.  In the photo below, you can see (at the left side) the side of the telephone booth mentioned above.
Here is the main entrance hall, looking back at it from the bar and buffet area.
Our table was in the southwestern corner of the main dining room.  We could step out onto the balcony there above New Orleans Square.  Here are a few views from the balcony.  Ahhhh. 
Below, we look down toward the main entrance of the French Market.  
Next time you are there, turn around and look back and up.  You will see our balcony there next to the magnolia tree and above the Cafe Orleans.  
Here is the balcony as seen from street level.
Here is a view from the eastern end of the balcony, looking down at the riverfront of New Orleans Square.
Fabulous artwork and a close up of some of the interior wallpaper.  Fresh flowers, but of course.
The delightful Club 33 Bloody Mary atop our table in the main dining room.
Now, some views from inside the Club and out onto New Orleans Square.  First, a peek down from the main corridor:
Next, the view out of the window at the top of the main entrance stairway (the phone booth is to the right, not shown).
Here is the view from the corridor where the buffet and bar are located.  We are looking out upon the entrance to the Blue Bayou.
Here is another view.
And this is a shot, taken from street level, of the window out of which the above photographs were taken (the white-trimmed window at the upper right side of the photograph).
 Another view of the main dining room.
Looking south toward the Court of the Angels (through that lanterned archway in the the distance) from our balcony along Orleans Street.

And here is the opposite view, looking from the intersection of Orleans and Royal Street back up toward our balcony (the one in the center-left of the photograph, next to the tall magnolia tree).
 A view of the riverfront side of the main dining room balcony (this is above the Cafe Orleans - note the blue and white umbrellas).
Looking out from the Court of Angels and up Orleans Street.
Finally, a shot of this blog's skipper luxuriating on the curb in front of City Hall, while waiting for the afternoon parade.  See?  I'm alive and well despite the severe lack of posts recently.
Until next time, I hope you've enjoyed this little photographic tour of Club 33, from inside and out.
My best to all of you---and thanks for checking in!