February 21, 2010

Disneyland family

I read a review of the experience of working at Disneyland posted by someone who had been part of the Magic Kingdom during the "Resort" era. The former attractions host had what sounds like an quite an unpleasant time on Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes,

His experience contrasts sharply with mine. I was a Cast Member in Outdoor Vending, not Attractions, but only part of what seems to have made the Disneyland show a failure for the reviewer apparently stemmed from his role.

Paddling canoes full of guests around the Rivers of America must be at least as strenuous as pushing dollies fully weighted down with popcorn oil and frozen bananas through 65,000 guests spread from Tomorrowland to Bear Country, which was a major part of working a vending relief shift when I was there back in the 80s. It wasn't just strenuous labor for pay barely above minimum wage, however, that disappointed this guy.

He wrote that maybe the most frustrating aspect of Disneyland employment was what he perceived as elitism:

"Despite the fact that most of us were earning just above minimum wage, I felt very unwelcomed, as if because I had not been there long enough, I was not a valuable member of the Disneyland team. There was a sense while I was there that you had to earn yourself a place in the upper strata of Disneyland employment’s social sphere. I didn’t enjoy having to compete like this for such a menial job."

I hope that this former Disneylander's experience is not at all typical of those working at the "Disneyland Resort." When Disneyland was still a family, this sort of thing didn't happen. We were all in it together then, whether we wore fifteen-year pins, ten-, five-, or one-year pins, or just our own names. My Area Stage Supervisor, responsible for Foods throughout Tomorrowland, started as a fry cook. Leads loaded wagons alongside new Casual/Seasonals.

Disneyland made distinctions then because of pay grades, but nothing else separated permanent full-time, part-time, and "red card" Cast Members hired in at the start of busy seasons. Perhaps the only "strata" was the one between those of us who had traded our laminated red IDs for the yellow cards identifying permanent employees. The only folks I recall caring about seeing any of our cards, however, were those working security at Harbor House. And they didn't care which was which as long as you had one.

Once we were inside the berm, we were part of the Disneyland family. There was certainly a competition between us, and it most definitely involved the canoes. Fortunately, it usually ended over pancakes before we went back to clock in.

1 comment:

DIsney On Parole said...

Anne, how right you are!!!
Those were the days!
I remember the day I was asked to go permanent ... what a day!