February 12, 2012

Pixie dust and carbon paper

It might seem incomprehensible to those who have grown up with fast passes and Fantasmic, but Disneyland was once a pretty primitive operation. A Cast of about 6,000 kept the Park sparkling and operating at peak efficiency with systems about as advanced as a walkie-talkie.

Sure, Audio-Animatronics were sophisticated even back in the '70s and '80s. But operating the Disneyland Show depended much more on really simple things. Carbon-backed shift change forms, for example. Bell telephones. Mechanical coin sorters. Pressure washers and gum scrapers. Sweda cash registers.

Schedules for hundreds of Cast Members were written up on paper forms and revised with correction fluid. In my department of Outdoor Vending alone, thousands of guests' crumpled dollars got hand-counted and reported on little slips that we attached to canvas cash bags with rubber bands. Mr. Johnson and his crew in Mission Control were better equipped, and they were only launching a simulated trip to Mars.

Even so, the Show went on, almost always flawlessly. Guests could trash every flower bed during a New Years' Eve party, but you would never know it by the next morning. You couldn't find a burnt-out bulb on Main Street if you wanted to buy one.

Modern technology is here to stay, of course, so Disneyland will probably have lasers, water projection screens, interactive game attractions, and even more whizzy stuff for a long time to come. That's great as far as it goes. I mean, now we've got blogs, right? Still, I hope that I'm around long enough to see somebody develop the kind of tech that I'd pony up the cost of a hundred annual passes to ride.

A time machine that takes you back to the Park that used to be.


Connie Moreno said...

I had to laugh when I read your comment about counting money by hand. I worked at Coke Corner in 2007 and we counted out money that way, too!

TokyoMagic! said...

This also took me back to the days of counting cash by hand at Knott's. And all the heads of the presidents had to be kept facing the same direction! We also had the hand written schedules that would be covered with "liquid paper" by the end of the week from all the changes made to it!