Thursday, November 11, 2010

My time at the Happiest Place on Earth

 I cannot believe in five years of having a blog and four years of writing NaBloPoMo that I have never written about my time at Disneyland. Especially since November is the month I started working there. So in honor of 16 years of being a former Cast Member, I will share some of the story.

  When I was nine years old my sister Kim got a job at Disneyland. My family already loved Disneyland and went often but this one event turned us into Disney fanatics. We went to several major events there such a Balloonfest, Hands Across America ( we were on Main Street, this would later hold meaning), The Captain EO and Star Tours openings where the park was open for 24 hours. She soon got bored with the job and quit, we missed the perk of getting in free

. So in 1987 my mom applied for a job and started working in the finance department at the Park. This was life changing for our family. Soon Disneyland became our playground and sometimes baby sitter on days off from school. My mom would often sign us in with friends and go off to work, feed us dinner at Plaza Inn after and take us home. Even a couple of Thanksgivings were spent eating at the Plaza Inn.

 So when it was time for me to get my first job, it was very obvious where I would work.........Disneyland of course, was there any other job? I got hired in November of 1994 to be a Merchandise Hostess on Main Street. At first, I was a little disappointed but that quickly faded since I loved the costume. My first day of training I met with several other new hires who turned out to be the same age. We quickly became a tight little group of friends.

 I remember our trainers David and Shelly taking us into the Candy Palace during rush and feeling like I would be fired on the first day for going so slow and not knowing how to handle cash! I remember one of my first scheduled shifts was working Thanksgiving day in Candy Palace, I was so sad to not be home with my family for the first time ever. People were rude, wanting to get out and enjoy the park, not wanting to deal with a slow newbie.

There were stroller shifts at midnight wiping down dirty strollers as they were turned in for the day or working Souvies in the Emporium at one in the morning as people shoved and pushed. There was Newstand half in and half out of the Park. Stocking plush, folding t-shirts on the t-shirt wall, cleaning up all the mess at the end of the day.  Working Grad nights where you don't see a soul until 4 o'clock in the morning when you were about to fall asleep. Actually, Grad nights were the best because we would have a pot luck in the closet of New Century Jewelry every night. Watching the fireworks in Timepieces when our friend Bonnie would march and sing to the finale number.

We would get to work and have to change into our costumes, we shared locker rooms in the Space Mountain building. I remember one night running up the stairs and slamming the doors on my friend Michelle and getting my finger stuck, I was laying on the floor in pain and Erika stepped over me and got ticked because I was blocking her locker. We would all gather and go out to Denny's at 3 am to hang out some more. Since we weren't able to leave and needed to get there early to change, we ended up spending ten hours a day together with no breaks.  We all became good friends and shared in many life experiences together.

I remember the first Christmas at the park, I got engaged and so did Becky. We ended up marrying within months of each other and becoming pregnant within months of each other. We threw wedding showers and baby showers, birthday lunches and potlucks together.  Eventually some of us became tighter when the stores were broken down into divisions. My group was the Collectibles group, we worked in China Closet, Sillohouettes,Timepieces, New Century Jewelry, Disneyana and The Gallery. I worked in Sillohouettes when I was pregnant with Conner and in fact, tried to ER to no avail the night I went to into labor with him. I will never forget they had torn up the parking lot to build CA Adventure and we were being driven around in golf carts, my co-worker Dorie screamed" Slow down, do you want her to go into labor?" to the parking lot driver and then I went home and went into labor.

After maternity leave, I worked in stock and stocked all the stores in my division. I worked with my friends Don,Anna and Sue everyday, it was a fun time. Getting there at 5 am and making coffee for everyone, having a Wiser Miser at the Inn Between for breakfast each morning and roaming the Park when no guests were there.

There is nothing like seeing Disneyland empty, it is a very surreal experience to say the least. Of course, I have also seen Disneyland at it's capacity to the point, they shut the park down. There is nothing like trying to cross Main Street in a sea of 80,0000 people.

Marty worked there for a year during the five years when I did. We never really worked together since he mainly worked in strollers. We did get to share in some of the experience together and he became friends with a few of our co-workers also.

I wish that I could share annual passholder stories, those are some of the most interesting people. That would be a blog in itself. I doubt it would be appropriate to share though.

I left Disneyland when I moved to Visalia. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I loved my time there and truthfully would probably be a "lifer" had I not moved. Disneyland was my college experience, I got married when I worked there ( at the Disneyland Hotel to boot), I had my first child while working there. My fellow Cast members were like extended family and I am so glad to still be able to call them my friends. I have many fond memories of my Cast Member years and times at the Park. It truly is my old stomping grounds, when I go back it is always like going home. Not many can say they have worked there and it truly is a honor to say that I have.