A couple of years ago, news reports said that Americans hated their jobs more than ever before in the past 20 years, with fewer than half saying they were satisfied.
If whatever survey produced those statistics had been taken at 1313 Harbor Blvd. in the early 1980s, the figures would have been strikingly different. When I worked as a Cast Member then, I loved being at Disneyland, and most of the people that I knew felt pretty much the same way.
I'm not saying that things were fun all the time. When attendance hit around 80,000 on a hot August afternoon, for example, the Park could be feel like far less than the Happiest Place on Earth. But those times couldn't last. The Disneyland show back then just wasn't like a typical job, where days are consumed by quotas, meetings, ongoing projects, and often constant stress. When Jack Wagner announced that the Magic Kingdom had ended its normal operating day, whatever tensions might have built up evaporated along with the guests headed down Main Street. If our job involved money, we dumped it into mechanical sorters, tallied up our bills, and dumped it at a Cash Control window. It wasn't our reason for being there. In the pre-Eisner and Wells days, Walt Disney Productions didn't need to stress over it. Had corporate raiders not launched a takeover attempt, those days might well have continued.
Our mission then was creating happiness. Whether we pursued it by taking guests to Mars or just pointing them to the nearest restroom, we worked hard to get our visitors to the place they had come to visit. I think that even on the hard days, most of us really did believe in the values—and the value—that Walt believed in bringing to people. That's what made us who we were then, and who we have become thirty years later.