September 29, 2008

A walking, talking information booth with a smile

Custodial and Outdoor Vending hosts and hostesses are the most accessible Cast Members at Disneyland. It’s tough to converse with a Disneylander while stepping aboard an attraction, but the nearest sweeper or vendor is expected to be all ears all the time.

Fewer guests had complaints in the 1980s, but we were still taught never to send them hoofing off to City Hall. Out there with nothing but a pan and broom or wagon between you and an upset guest, you were City Hall.

Fortunately, most of the guests I met while scooping popcorn, dishing up ice cream bars, or handing out balloons had questions, not complaints. (I admit that sometimes I had complaints about their questions!) And the key point to remember about questions is that no matter how many times you might have answered a particular one, each is a first occasion for the guest asking it. To that guest, that question is the most important one in the world.

That doesn’t mean that some guest questions weren’t really dopey. How about these:

What time is the 2:00 parade?

Are the fireworks outside?

Is Disneyland open till it closes?

Where are the whores? (I am not making that up. Only time a guest ever stumped me. I was at a wagon just outside Plaza Pavilion, and I suppose he hoped that the building might be a house of ill repute!)

And my all-time favorite:

What do you have? (Asked while approaching ice cream wagon, which has large sign on front facing guest stating items and prices.)

Most of the questions I got were ordinary, but extremely important:

Where are the restrooms?

Have you seen my kid?

How do you page somebody? (Guests really want to be able to page each other. At least, they did in the 80s, when a cell phone was about as big as a loaf of bread. I don’t know if you still hear announcements in the Park like this: “Daisy . . . Duck . . . please call . . . the Disneyland . . . operator. Daisy . . . Duck. Please call the Disneyland operator.” They happened every so often way back when. Answer: sorry, but no paging except in medical emergencies.)

Where’s the Lost and Found?

I got few foreign language questions, but one happened while I was working the popcorn wagon in New Orleans Square. A guest who spoke only french bought a popcorn and asked, “où est la maison de pirates?” Luckily, that one was easy.

Sometimes guests didn’t really care about the answers. They just used a question as a good excuse to talk to you.

Fortunately for me, that excuse also works for writing.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Where is the Matterhorn?

You mean that big mountain right there?


Um, it's right there.

Okay, thank you!