November 6, 2011

Inside Outdoor Vending

If you remember having the lemonade stand that you had as a kid, you'll have a pretty good idea of what it was like to work in Outdoor Vending back in the '80s.

The backstage side of the business was an efficient but decidedly low tech operation. It was, in fact, a "no tech" operation. The walkie-talkies carried by leads and supervisors were the only electronics used. The ODV headquarters is depicted above as it once looked when it was tucked behind America Sings.

If Paul Frees narrated a tour, he might say something like, "We find it delightfully primitive here in this dusty retreat. The only room has wall-to-wall wooden counters for sorting guests' sweaty dollar bills, with cool or cold non-air-conditioned temperatures depending on the season."

Well-used bulletin boards lined the upper walls. Schedules were tacked up on one for the fifty or sixty Cast Members who wore Disneyland's yellows, as well as the various other costumes themed to lands across the Park where ice cream and popcorn carts set up shop. On the other, you would find guest compliments and occasional complaints, announcements about things like canoe races and softball games, and sometimes a postcard from one of our own who had taken some rare vacation time.

Clustered in the center of the room were stacked boxes of popcorn boxes, porch umbrellas that needed cleaning before they could be sent back out with ice cream wagons to protect against the Anaheim sun, and big yellow parkas for spending extended time taking inventory or something in one of the freezers. Tall metal dollies stood around. There were also about four electric coin sorters that might have been there since 1955.

The cramped cubbyhole on the right was where you arrived to find out your daily work location before heading to Wardrobe for the proper attire. The lead on the phone inside looks like he's handling a typical problem. Maybe the dry ice shipment hasn't arrived or extra shifts have to be filled for an after-hours party.

Looking back, I'd have to say that those seem like pretty good problems to have.


TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks for the peek at what the ODV headquarters was like. So what exactly does an electric corn sorter do? I assume it was to "sort corn", but why was it having to be sorted?

Yellows said...


Oops! Typo! Coin sorters, not corn sorters. The only corn sorting that we did was popped or unpopped!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ha! Okay, that makes much more sense!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another neat post about Outdoor Vending. I worked there in 1981 and had a great time. I remember those old coin sorters! I also remember taking milk crates loaded with bags of coins and carefully sorted bills to cash control. I remember the schedules were posted on the south wall. I remember the yellow coats to stock the freezers. It was a great job back then!

Lee Hoffman said...

Well about nostalgia- Lee Hoffman here-I was on the Vending team from 82, to about 86-interested in talking to some old friends are you know who are. My memory is trowing a HUGE party for the whole team at a friends house in Bel Air, causing everyone to call in sick-whereby our Supervisor (Greg was it?) had me do breaks for the entire park-East and West Side-nothing like driving that Ford mini pickup with Ice Cream back and forth between the Carousel Theatre and Small World Break area 100 times on a Summer Day with a killer hangover. Ah the memories.