One of the niftiest things about Outdoor Vending in the early 80s was the fun of working all across the park, as I’ve described in earlier posts. Far and away the premier work assignment was the balloon position in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. If you take a close look at the center of this publicity photo, you can catch a glimpse of a vendor assigned to that location. (It’s not me and I don’t recognize whoever it is. If you do, please let me know!) He or she looks to be wearing the long-sleeved shirt and bow tie of the Main Street costume, which no longer exists. That means whoever it is was assigned to the Castle, as only Lead, Relief, and Tomorrowland positions wore yellows.
Except for Disneyland’s first-rate Custodial Hosts and Hostesses, no other Cast Members had the chance to become part of the Magic Kingdom’s signature spot. Standing out there with a bunch of fifty bright, colorful Mickey balloons, you were truly an integral piece of the Disneyland image. Whether I worked that spot as my assigned position or just stepped in as a Relief to cover a lunch or break, I felt just a bit prouder of my role. How could anyone not? You were in front of one of Walt’s most famous icons, holding a bunch of red strings connected to fifty big copies of another, and everyone in the park passed by you.
The person under one of those clouds of multicolored mice was not only someone guests greeted as they headed into or out of Fantasyland, he or she was someone they often included in their photos. I was never in the character department, but was asked many times to pose with guests for a Castle snapshot. Even handed a balloon to actor John Candy as he strolled by one day.
I don’t know if the company still puts balloons out there. If they don’t, they should. That single spot has more pixie dust than just about anywhere in Disneyland.
*“Pixie dust,” for non-Cast Members, is an elemental mixture of certain qualities like enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and general motivation to create happiness found most often in eager new hires and dedicated old hands. Those for whom a role in the Disneyland Show was better described as a “job” tended to be in short supply of the mysterious and quite magical substance, which has reportedly been detected in only trace quantities at the “Disneyland Resort.”