Mary at Pecos Bill Cafe

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Features, From the Mouth of the Mouse

Tagged: , , ,

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Published on June 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm with 14 Comments

Hello, and welcome to this week’s ‘From The Mouth Of The Mouse!’

Each week, we spotlight a different Cast Member story to give you more insight into some of your favorite attractions, resorts, and movies from all over the Walt Disney Company.

Sometimes, you meet Disney Cast Members in the most unexpected places.

I work for a health care system in New Jersey. For the entire time that I’ve worked here, I’ve known today’s interviewee, Mary, who sits at the front desk, always smiling, and always quick with a friendly “Hello” for whomever walks through the door.

I’ve often stopped to speak with her, but didn’t know until just recently that she was a former Cast Member at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.

Of course, I immediately grilled her about her experience, and asked her if she’d be interested in sharing for this week’s column.


 

JEFF: What did you do at the Magic Kingdom?

MARY: I had the pleasure of working at the park pretty much when it first opened. I had lived in Florida all my life, and tried to get a job at the theme park for awhile. By early 1972, I was working in Frontierland, at Pecos Bill Cafe! This was before it was redone and renamed in the 90s. Back then it was Pecos Bill Cafe.

JEFF: What did you do at the restaurant?

MARY: Pretty much everything. I started out as a counter girl, taking orders and money from guests. Eventually, I worked my way up to manager, and was overseeing everything going on. It was a lot of work back then, a lot of running around. Of course, I was a lot younger back then, so I didn’t really mind that at all.

JEFF: How long were you there?

MARY: Total? I couldn’t even tell you at this point. I’ve worked on and off there for a long time.

I probably worked that first time until about 1975, before moving away for a few years. I was back in the area by ’79, and of course, reapplied for a job there. I was placed at The Adventureland Veranda for that stint. You’re probably too young to remember, but we had these crazy turquoise and green costumes to wear. It was like straight out of the 1960s, those things.

I’m pretty sure those were the official costumes all the way up until the place closed in the 90s, but I can’t be 100% sure. I had been away for those few years, though, so things changed a bit, and I wasn’t able to be a manager straight away again. But I worked hard, and eventually worked my way up once more!

JEFF: Did they have the Teriyaki Burgers when you worked there?

MARY: Oh, yes, they did! It was like the best kept secret in the World, back then. Not like the ‘best kept secret’ nowadays, with the Vacation Club. I think Kikkoman took over the sponsorship of the restaurant just before I started working again, and they added that delicious little delicacy to the menu. I had many of those while I was there.

And their fries! Oh, boy… they were so good, but looking back, they were definitely so unhealthy!

JEFF: I vaguely remember the burgers from when I was a kid, before the restaurant closed. But I do remember the fries. They were so thin and greasy! How could you go wrong with that?

MARY: Exactly! They were fantastic!

JEFF: What happened after that?

MARY: Well, I left again in 1985. Like most kids my age, I got married and had to get a ‘real’ job to help with the bills. My husband and I moved to NJ for a few years, because that’s where his job took him. But, when they were relocating him again in 1994, guess where we went?

JEFF: I’m going to assume back to Florida!

MARY: Exactly! And back to Disney for me. This time, I was assigned to Pecos Bill Cafe, my old home. Because of my experience in the past, and my former job just before that managing a restaurant in NJ, I went straight to manager this time.

I was there in 1998 when it went through that massive refurbishment, becoming Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe. I was working at the Columbia Harbour House during the refurbishment, but went back and forth to help out when needed. They really expanded the place, especially by absorbing the Mile Long Bar.

They used several styles of architecture for the outside of the restaurant. It has a more ‘classic western’ feel at the front end, in the middle of Frontierland, and then it transitions into a more adobe-like structure like you’d find in the American Southwest on the other end. This made the transition between Frontierland and Adventureland more seamless to the guests as they pass from between those two lands.

JEFF: I really love the theming of the restaurant now. They feature more of the legend of Pecos Bill and his friends.

MARY: Yes, I think they did a great job of it. I love all the little souvenirs and artifacts they have on the walls from the tall tales and legends. They made it seem like Pecos Bill’s friends ‘donated’ all that stuff, so it’s very nice. My favorite is the mask of The Lone Ranger, with a card beneath it that says “Donated by…”. And that’s all it says! It’s such a clever in-joke, and it makes me laugh every time!

JEFF: How did you wind up back in NJ again?

MARY: Well, again, jobs change, and my husband was relocated back here in 2001, so away I went. And that’s when I got this job here with you.

JEFF: You’re the front line of the hospital, pretty much. You’re the first person guests see when they walk in. Does your Disney experience help you in this role?

MARY: Oh, absolutely! The guest service training I got at Disney was top notch, and definitely something I carried over into my role here. I dealt with guests on a daily basis while at Disney, so something like this comes naturally to me now. I know our hospital takes a very ‘Disney’ approach to their customer service, so it’s almost like being back in Disney World again.

JEFF: Do you have plans to return one day?

MARY: What a silly question. Of COURSE I do. Even if my husband’s job doesn’t take us back, there is always retirement!


Thank you, Mary, for sharing with us, and congrats!

Don’t forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly From the Mouth of the Mouse
.


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By Jeff Heimbuch

If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!

You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here! 

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Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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14 Comments

Comments for Mary at Pecos Bill Cafe are now closed.

  1. WOW that was a fun read. Teriyaki burgers? C’mon, now I feel like I missed something amazing.

  2. I love hearing about the old days at Disney World. Mary seems amazing. I hope she makes her way back to the park one day.

    Great interview Jeff. Thank you!

  3. Thanks Jeff!

  4. Lovely article thank you!

  5. Great article.

  6. Great article! Would love to go there sometime.

  7. Another great article! Thanks so much!

  8. Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great article. It truly is a small world. =)

  10. Hi, great article.

  11. great job!

  12. Very cool! Now I want a teriyaki burger!

  13. You never know when people may surprise you. I have a fellow teacher at work who just told me she did the college program at River Country!

  14. Mary is adorable! Very cute interview!