June 19, 2011

Daddy's day

Every Disneylander knows the special place that pops occupy in the Magic Kingdom. As Walt said long ago,

Disneyland really began when my two daughters were very young. Saturday was always Daddy's day, and I would take them to the merry-go-round and sit on a bench eating peanuts, while they rode. And sitting there alone, I felt there should be something built, some kind of family park where parents and children could have fun together.

Happy Father's Day to the men who served as regiment commanders while we explored Fort Wilderness, took us soaring in Rocket Jets and down icy slopes of snow-capped mountains, and showed us that the Happiest Place on Earth was wherever we happened to be. They taught us things about Disneyland and life that we couldn't learn as well anywhere else.

Henry might have said it best when he hosted the Country Bear Jamboree and sang about big Fred, mouth harp player of the Five Bear Rugs, who "never took a lesson,

he just picked it up from dad."

June 12, 2011

Youth may savor

The challenge and promise of the future aren't what are on the minds of most of the young adults who attend Grad Nites. The dress code helps some, but it's probably safe to say that most Cast Members are only too happy to get over the mid-June hump and into the routine of Summer. A Disneyland Line from my era tells the real story about working the infamous all-nighters:

Grad Nights are . . .

when you tell your family you're leaving the house at 10:30 PM to go to work . . . and nobody believes you.

when you walk in from the parking lot and pass all the "A's" and "B's" going the other way. (A's and B's were permanent full-time and permanent part-time Cast Members. Everyone else was a "Casual/Seasonal," without the seniority to avoid Grad Nite shifts. They were definitely a rite of passage. It was good to work at Disneyland back then, but even better to work at Disneyland for a long time!)

when the person next to you in the dressing room (probably an "A" or "B"!) babbles on about the 12,000 half-crazed seniors from 50 local high schools who are waiting out there for you.

when they let the grads in at 11 PM and you and the other six members of your food facility kneel for a moment of silent prayer at 10:59 PM.

when the sophisticated, well-mannered "youths of tomorrow" start throwing packets of catsup at each other.

when some kid, showing off to his date, orders 14 hamburgers (all cut in half), and then cancels the order.

when you and the rest of your crew count the minutes as 5 AM approaches.

When you punch out at 5:15 AM and fall asleep while putting your time card back in the rack.

when you and three friends decide to go out to Denny's for a nice, quiet breakfast . . . and find 87 other casual/seasonals eating there too.

when you drive slowly home as the sun comes up, mumbling over and over to yourself, "never again . . . never again."