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  1. #1

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    I was lucky enough to work in Outdoor Vending for 3 years back in the 90's, which meant that I got to work on a different wagon in a different land each day. So I have been able to work in each land at Disneyland, and I thought it would be fun to discuss the different pros and cons of each. Most of it has to do with weather, but sometimes the atmosphere made up for it. I was on "Yellow Team" so that meant I worked only on the popcorn, churro, pretzel, and funnel cake wagons, as well as vending cotton candy for the Fantasyland Theater, but after I had been there long enough, I would occasionally get asked to work on other carts like an ice cream cart or a hot dog pedal cart. So here are my impressions of what working in the various lands of Disneyland are like:

    1. Main Street - First and foremost, the costume for Main St. was relatively comfortable, so that was always a big plus in any land. I had to wear a blue striped dress shirt, navy blue dress pants, a blue vest, and and a black bowtie. It could sometimes be a little warm in the summer, but the jacket that we got for the winter was the warmest jacket of any of our costumes (in fact, many of us would try to get away with using it in Frontierland since it was close enough to the same time period and more or less matched that costume). I liked it so much I ended up buying one a few years later when I saw one at Sears. It is a "Pea Coat" and apparently is very popular among fisherman on the East Coast in places like Maine or Nova Scotia. You would think the music would get annoying, but actually you stop noticing it after about half an hour or so. Working at the hub was a lot of fun because you would always be very busy so the day would go by quickly. Working in Towne Square was slow and could be boring sometimes, but you did get to watch the parades and / or fireworks so that helped. The biggest benefit was that it was right next to the main Cast Member restaurant (the Inn Between, which is attached to the Plaza Inn and shares a kitchen), so you had the maximum amount of time to eat during your 30 min lunch and didn't waste too much of it walking to and from your wagon (and being stopped by 10 different guests along the way asking where the nearest restroom was).

    2. Tomorrowland - Working in Tomorrowland was always kind of forgettable. The only good parts were that you were close to the Inn Between, and occasionally you'd get to see the Trashcan Trio (three guys dressed like custodial cast members who would "spontaneously" decide to play a show by drumming on their metal trash cans). The costume was comfortable enough (green dress pants, and a brown short sleeve shirt with red and green shoulders), and I don't even remember what the jacket was like. The wagons usually were not that busy but steady enough that the day didn't go by too slowly. The worst part by far was working on the popcorn wagon under the Rocket Rod berm on the rare day that the Rocket Rods were actually working. People could never find the entrance to the ride, so for every one box of popcorn that I sold, I was probably asked 5 times "how to you get on the Batman ride?"

    3. Fantasyland - I really liked this costume (see my picture, which was taken in 1998 from the churro wagon across from the entrance to the Matterhorn). It always felt like the most "Disney" of the costumes that we had. It was comfortable, and was the only costume where we had the option of wearing shorts. All of the wagons were always very busy, and there were a lot of vendors (especially along the Small World mall) so on the rare slow day you had someone to talk to. We also had the parades and fireworks to look forward to if the day was too slow. It was a bit of a walk to the Inn Between, but overall working in Fantasyland was usually fun. For me I always liked seeing how happy the little kids were, and you saw that more in Fantasyland then anywhere else.

    4. Frontierland - This was a mixed bag, with some good parts and some bad parts. First of all, it was by far my least favorite costume. It was a white dress shirt with a corduroy vest, black bowtie, and these weird brown striped pants that were super uncomfortable. They were extremely tight in the crotch area. Eventually I figured out one day that they were designed for riding horses. I'm guessing that Disney found and old design and just brought used that without realizing that maybe certain aspects of the pants weren't necessary. The popcorn wagon accross from the Golden Horseshoe was one of my favorite wagons to work on, because I would get to to see the Laughing Stock Co. usually six times. They were improv actors that did short 10-min shows and they would use people from the audience in their shows, so no matter how many times you watched it, each show was different. The shows were:
    1. Finding a husband for Sally Mae (a guy dressed up as a girl) by playing the dating game
    2. Running for Mayor by giving various campaign speaches
    3. Finding the person that robbed the bank by asking various "witnesses" what they saw
    You also had an okay view of Fantasmic at night. However, the other two wagons were some of my least favorite. There used to be a churro wagon on the right side of the Mark Twain dock (where the fruit cart is now), and for some reason, this spot was insanely slow. The popcorn wagon was only on the other side and it was insanely busy. It was the weirdest thing and I never could figure it out. But it was a long day working on that wagon. The only fun thing was that during Fantasmic the boats would go by before they had turned their lights on, and the people on them would always wave to me. By far the worst wagon in the park to work on was the pretzel wagon on Big Thunder Trail. It was about halfway between the exit of Big Thunder and the entrance to what is now Big Thunder Ranch (it was the Festival of Fools at the time). This is the slowest, deadest area of the park, and these were the longest days ever. MINUTES would go by where I didn't see a single person. Someone could have stabbed me and robbed the wagon and no one would notice for awhile. There was no entertainment to watch during the day, and it was a long walk to the Inn Between. I still have nightmares about that wagon.

    5. New Orleans Square - Even though it was the Frontierland costume, which I hated, I loved working in New Orleans Square. You had the great jazz bands that would play usually 5 times a day or so, you got to watch Fantasmic twice, and the wagons were always insanely busy so the days went buy very fast. The only downside for some people was that the Inn Between was too far away, and they didn't like eating at the Westside Diner (the other cast member restaurant, which was underneath Royal St. near the Blue Bayou kitchen) because there usually were no other ODV cast members to eat with. I liked it though because I always thought the food was better at the Westside Diner, and I had made friends with some of the Fantasmic performers because I dated a girl who was one of the caterpillar dancers. The only downside other then the costumes was that the food from the French Market smelled so darn good when they would start cooking it at 10AM that I'd be starving by the time my lunch break came around. On hot days New Orleans Square was usually one of the cooler places in the park, although sometimes there would be a bad smell from the Rivers of America. Overall though this was my favorite land.

    6. Critter Country - This was also the Frontierland costume, and it was usually a pretty dead area, so I didn't like working there so much. There was no music or entertainment. There were plenty of trees so it was also usually a cooler part of the park.

    7. Toontown - Everyone hated Toontown. It was definitely the hottest land in the park, and not only is there not any shade, but the buildings and ground reflected the heat a lot too. Toontown was easily 10 degrees hotter then any other part of the park. It was the Fantasyland costume so we could wear shorts, but that didn't help enough. Because of the heat, a lot of times the guests were very impatient and had a short temper, and of course the kids were miserable and often times grumpy or even crying. We always sold a TON of bottled water on that wagon. You also knew you were going to get screwed on lunch, because you could either walk to the Inn Between and try to ignore anyone who asked you a question along the way (which I would not do), or walk the same distance to the Eat Ticket which was the restaurant for the executives at TDA, which was the same distance away but you were walking backstage. Either way you ended up with about 15 minutes of walking and 15 minutes to order your food, wait for it to be made, and eat your food. It wasn't enough.

    8. Adventureland - I never go to to work here because there are no yellow team wagons in Adventureland, but I know I would have loved it. The vendors who did work there wore the Indiana Jones costume, and of course Adventureland has the most trees and is the coolest land in the park.

    So overall New Orleans Square was my favorite. As you can tell, the costume, how hot it was, how close to the cast member cafeterias a given wagon was, and how busy it were the main factors in whether we liked a wagon or not. I loved working there, and I really enjoyed interacting with the guests while I was in the park. It was probably harder work then attractions or merchandise (especially cleaning the wagon at night), but I liked it more because you got to work everywhere in the park rather then just being stuck on one ride or store. I generally would recommend it to anyone.
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  2. #2

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Very enlightening.

    “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
    but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
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  3. #3

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Very interesting read and great insider's view. I always love hearing different views of the same experience.

  4. #4

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Great post, thanks!

  5. #5

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Your post on Toontown is right on the money.

  6. #6

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    i loved this, very insightful!
    and btw you started working there the year i was born. lol thats awesome too!
    To all who come to this Happy Place.... WELCOME ºoº
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  7. #7

    • Disneyland Dreamer
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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    What did they end up doing with the WestSide Dinner? I know they put a new CM restaurant outside the berm, but what became of the one underground once the new one opened?

  8. #8

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    The Westside Diner is now behind the Mansion show building, you can see it when you ride the tram, it's the brick building a little before the Indy show building. I don't think the underground one is there anymore from my knowledge, I could be wrong though.

  9. #9

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckles View Post
    Your post on Toontown is right on the money.
    So everyone remember when you're in Toontown to be EXTRA nice to the CM's who have to work there!!! And I was lucky in a way because our costume was at least fairly comfortable. Some of the costumes that I saw that the CM's have to wear look extra warm on top of the already higher temperatures there. Although I haven't been in Toontown since I quit in 99, so maybe they've gotten new ones by now.
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  10. #10

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Thank you Big D. I love this sort of behind the curtain thing. And I totally agree on Toontown. I don't like going there as a guest for the very reasons you mentioned. It's just so totally exposed. It must be hell for CM's.

    Find our trip report videos on Youtube at FreshBakedDisney. Find our blog at www.freshbakeddisney.com.

  11. #11

    • Boat shoes all day long
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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    This was really interesting and the first perspective of its kind that I have seen. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your job and how much the costume has to do with the level of enjoyment. I notice this just in a regular day of walking around. If your clothes are too tight or too loose, no good.
    "Let's get weird" -Abraham Lincoln

  12. #12

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by BoygunaSurf View Post
    This was really interesting and the first perspective of its kind that I have seen. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your job and how much the costume has to do with the level of enjoyment. I notice this just in a regular day of walking around. If your clothes are too tight or too loose, no good.
    You're welcome. That was the reason I loved my job so much, because my department was one of the only ones that got to work in every part of the park. Very few cast members ever get to experience that. Incidentally, if you look at Outdoor Vending today, they do have one generic costume for most lands now (brown and white). Hopefully it's comfortable!
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  13. #13

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Thanks so much for sharing! Very interesting!


  14. #14

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by BoygunaSurf View Post
    This was really interesting and the first perspective of its kind that I have seen. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your job and how much the costume has to do with the level of enjoyment. I notice this just in a regular day of walking around. If your clothes are too tight or too loose, no good.
    Well, and I worked behind an oven (or popcorn kettle) on every wagon, so that added to the heat. So other CM's in different departments may not have been as concerned with how warm their given costume was. The churro wagons are the worst because it's an open oven with a conveyor belt that you send the churros though. So on a warm day, I was always hotter standing behind the wagon. It was nice on the rare cold day though.
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  15. #15

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    Re: What it's like to work in the various lands at Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    Incidentally, if you look at Outdoor Vending today, they do have one generic costume for most lands now (brown and white).
    Well said. This is pretty much a trend at the park in general. You used to be able to peruse through a store in Adventureland and see different things than you would see in Frontierland. Not so much the case any more. And down in the MS Emporium, you can get the same shirt design they used 6 years ago, it just says 2013 instead of 2007...you know the one, with the characters all tangled around the numbers? I get people want to remember their trip, but so many of the apparel designs lack any kind of imagination.
    "Let's get weird" -Abraham Lincoln

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