June 27, 2010

Bright summer days

Back in the '80s, a Disneyland ice cream wagon's day started outside the outdoor vending office behind America Sings in Tomorrowland. It's in the middle left of this photo.

Vending was a pretty simple operation then. We had just a few items—ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, frozen juice bars (first only orange, then strawberry), and frozen bananas. There were no inventory controllers, no post-mix beverage stockers. You stocked the wagons by putting on work gloves, going into walk-in freezers next to the balloon room, and carrying out metal cartons filled with cardboard ice cream novelties. These once-inexpensive treats went into each wagon, and you stacked dry ice cakes on top to keep things cool under Anaheim's summer heat.

Each wagon was then equipped with a napkin dispenser, umbrella, and wooden cash box. If you were on time for your shift, you picked it up at that point for your push out to Bear Country, Frontierland, Fantasyland, or wherever you were assigned—you had to love the positions next to Adventure thru Inner Space or by where Tomorrowland's Rolly Crump ticket booth once stood!

If you strolled over from the locker room a few minutes early for your day shift, you usually found yourself joining in brass polishing. All of the wagons had brass handles and corner trim, and all of that brightwork had to gleam before rolling out in front of guests. That's what's happening in the photo here.

Wagon polishing wasn't exactly an enjoyable task, but I recall it being a fun time. In Outdoor Vending, you work alone for the most part. Vendors got to work all over the Park, but being dispersed so widely meant that we took our breaks by ourselves. You usually didn't see anyone in the department other than your Relief until the changeover at the end of your shift. So the last few minutes dressing the wagons before stepping on stage were lots of fun, usually full of jokes and making after-work plans with friends.

Then you swung open the big wooden doors around the corner from the old Tomorrowland skyway station and put a shoulder to your wagon wheel. On with the Show and another bright summer day.