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From The Mouth Of The Mouse

Tom at Disney California Adventure Stores

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by , 04-17-2012 at 12:00 AM
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Hello, and welcome to this week's [B]'From The Mouth Of The Mouse!'[/B]

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.
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[SIZE=3][FONT=verdana]This week, we're chatting with Tom, who works in the shops at Disney California Adventure. He's been there for over 7 years, and provides some great insight to a Park that people may not enjoy as much as the original Disneyland. But after reading his interview, you may see it in a different light![/FONT][/SIZE]
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Here's Tom!
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[/FONT][SIZE=3][FONT=verdana][I]JEFF: How did get into Disney to begin with?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM:[/B] I used to watch the Mouseketeers, the original ones, all the time on our little 12 inch black and white TV, back in Montana after school. My cousin and I read lots and lots of comic books; my favorites being the Duck family with Uncle Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews. The Living Desert and the True Life Adventures made the strongest impression on me. When you saw that paintbrush on the movie screen you knew it was going to be special. All those factors combined really started my love for Disney![/INDENT]

[I]JEFF: How did you wind up working for Disney?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM: [/B]I had worked in medical research, both for a private firm and a hospital, for over 30 years and finally retired. Looking for some extra income, I came upon a Disney job fair in Anaheim. I went in at 11:30 and had a job at 2:30![/INDENT]

[I]JEFF: What was your role there?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM:[/B] I worked in the stores the whole time, at Disney’s California Adventure. After 4 months, they made me a trainer. Later on, I became a core trainer. I did, however, work at Disneyland three times and twice at World of Disney (on Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve, yikes)![/INDENT]

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JEFF: Did you want to work at California Adventure?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM: [/B]There were no openings at Disneyland at that time, so I got DCA. Luckily, the evening hours were better for me at DCA, since I was commuting from Hollywood then.[/INDENT]

[I]JEFF: What were your responsibilities there?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM:[/B] Early on, all cast members would were short and the evening shifts, which were only 4 hours. You closed the store, closed the registers and cleaned up.

As a full time CM with more seniority, I would open the store, verify the registers, and stock up the counter supplies. Doors would open and we would greet the guests coming in. We were front line CMs answering a lot of questions about attractions, hours, locations, etc. We also were giving out birthday buttons, talking with guests and their kids, straightening up, and of course, ringing up sales.

With a lot of new CMs, I would be helping them, as well as register procedures. If it rained, we called it “ponchomania,” because lots and lots of guests lined up to buy ponchos. If the store sold pins, you had to deal with all the pin traders as well; the bad ones were referred to as pin nazis and you knew them by sight. In the Duffy stores, collectors would come in to buy the new items, with a 25 per person limit at a time, so that required two of you to handle those sales. We did lots of chatting with guests as well, and people commented that our park was much friendlier than the other one. In all fairness, Disneyland gets mobbed most of the time, and their CMs get burned out there very quickly.[/INDENT]

[I]JEFF: So you have seen firsthand some of the construction and renovation going on the last few months. Do you feel like this will help with the otherwise negative image DCA had? [/I]
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TOM: [/B]I have to say this very strongly: I never heard one single guest complain about the construction to me. They all knew that something magic was going on and when the walls came down it would all be worth it for them. A major theme park had never tried this scale of reconstruction and still stayed open before. They’re doing it now and it's almost done.

I definitely agree that the park I came to work for in 2003 was not what it should be. There wasn't enough for the guests to do and we weren't very busy. When it's finished this summer, it will almost be a brand new park and much better. I know that people had some sort of expectation it would be Disneyland Part 2 when it opened. It's not. Disneyland is unique and it's the original that make everything else possible. When World of Color came online, I know certain website contributors immediately pooh poohed it as inferior to Fantasmic, and that we wouldn't be able to handle the crowds, and why would anyone want to see it. Well, we passed the million visitor mark a long time ago, and guests seem to love it. As great as it is with the new social technology today, there is too much second guessing today with all the instant feedback websites like Twitter.[/INDENT]

[I]JEFF: Any times you can think of that you went out of your way to make a guest's visit more magical?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM:[/B] I remember a little girl who had come with her family with the sole purpose of meeting Mulan. It was their last day and they hadn't been able to find Mulan. I called up and found out where the meet and greet was and sent them over. They just made it and she stood in line twice to visit with Mulan. They came back to the pin cart where I was and really thanked me.

Another time, I worked briefly in Midway games. A family came with a little girl who was missing three fingers on her hand. She wanted to throw the ball and try to knock down the figures to win a monkey. They didn't patronize her and let her throw even though she barely made it over the wall. I told her that the game wasn't working right and knocked them down myself and let her choose which monkey she wanted. Her smile was wonderful. Those are days that made it all worthwhile for me.[/INDENT]

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[I]JEFF: I’m sure you get your share of crazy stories about Guests too. Any you’d like to share?

[/I][INDENT][B]TOM: [/B]A guest once wanted to know if our store was open until we closed. We said yes, of course it was. And the joke backstage was that we were also closed until we opened.

Another guest said she liked our park, but was sad that we had gotten rid of Pirates of the Caribbean. This happens a lot, as people just come in and automatically assume it's Disneyland. They can't find Space Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, or the castle. Once they find out, they want to know if they have to drive to Disneyland or take a taxi. Other guests have asked where the Betty Boop stuff is, Shamu the whale plushies, Daffy Duck items, and before we bought them, Spiderman figures.

I heard a guest ask where Walt Disney World was and could she drive there from LA in a day. When she was told it was in Orlando, Florida and 2000 miles away, she asked where Florida was. She was not a foreign visitor![/INDENT]

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[I]JEFF: Any additional thoughts about DCA that you want people to keep in mind?[/I]

[/FONT][/SIZE][INDENT][SIZE=3][FONT=verdana][B]TOM:[/B] If you’ve ever been to DCA in the past, please come back to give it another chance once all the construction walls are down and everything is finished. It’ll be wonderful.

We'll have more attractions, including a high speed car race in Cars Land. The Wine and Food Festival will be back. We'll have our own parades back again. We ARE different from Disneyland, but still part of the Disney experience.

The Harry Potter thing at Universal really scared the DisneyCcompany when they realized that other parks could do Disney one better at theming, so they put a lot into the new Cars Land area. For me, it's not a competition between us and Disneyland. Disneyland is unique and very special and I always will love going there. But I love my park, and the people in it, too. DCA is just another aspect of the big world of Disney. There are more adventures than just Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh, once you get to know it![/FONT][/SIZE][/INDENT]

[SIZE=3][FONT=verdana]Thanks, Tom, for chatting with me![/FONT][/SIZE][SIZE=3][FONT=verdana]

Don't forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly [B]From the Mouth of the Mouse[/B].

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[/URL]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="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL]. I'd love to hear from you!

Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled [URL="http://micechat.com/blogs/the-626/"][B]The 626[/B][/URL]. We invite you to check it out!

Jeff also co-hosts the VidCast [URL="http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFFAFAC3F767465A9&feature=plcp"]Communicore Weekly[/URL] on [URL="http://www.youtube.com/user/MiceChat"]MiceTube[/URL].

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Comments

  1. LandOFHappiness's Avatar
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    Even back when there was DCA 1.0 I still loved it. I don't care what anyone else says about how bad the park was I grew an emotional attachment to it and just loved it more and more as it grew better by age. This year I will be coming to see its new look and im sure it will be more of a jewel. It doesn't have to be another Disneyland in my book as this park has its own something that makes it feel special too!
  2. midnite owl's Avatar
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    Haha, Tom's "crazy" stories about guests are funny.
  3. mratigan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by midnite owl
    Haha, Tom's "crazy" stories about guests are funny.
    I love these stores
  4. cavners5's Avatar
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    Love the "extras" some of the CM's do to make an experience more magical! Great Job, can't wait to visit in July!
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Thank you Tom and Jeff. I love crazy guest stories.

    And I think Tom is right that DCA will be well worth a visit once those construction walls come down.

    Cheers,

    Dusty
  6. bigwavedave's Avatar
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    tHANKS TOM FOR SHARING WITH US YOR EXPERIENCE. NOW WERE IS CALIFORNIA?
  7. DisneyanaFan's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for sharing - I very much appreciate the fact that CMs like you are responsible for most of 'the magic' that brings us back to DR again and again!
  8. DizMiiLand's Avatar
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    That's a wonderful story about the little girl at Midway Games.

    For the record, DCA has always been a wonderful park. Our family has visited it (from Utah) every year since it opened, and we have made some wonderful memories there I wouldn't trade for anything. And think of it this way, holistically, DCA is far better than any other non-Disney park anywhere, IMO.

    Really looking forward to the new improvements and I appreciate people like Tom who make these places what they are. Magical.
    Updated 04-25-2012 at 01:04 PM by DizMiiLand