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  1. #1

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    Thumbs down My Experience Performing at DCA

    If some of you did not know, the Disneyland Resort often reaches out to high schools in local areas for the chance to perform at either Disneyland or California Adventure. My high school was picked to perform at California Adventure on July 5th, and I have to say it was a bit of an negative experience.

    The cast members in the parks were just fine. They were a bit disgruntled from the heat and the sight of an entire high school musical ensemble roaming the parks, but they were perfectly helpful and polite. (Especially the World of Color line-wranglers, my did they have quite a lot of parents excessively yelling at them...)

    I'm an AP, so I'm used to the occasional rude cast member, and I usually understand that people have their cranky days. But this was a bit of a different monster.

    The real problem was what happened backstage.

    We lined up to go backstage at a certain to change into our uniform, and had a few stragglers that were late to the line-up. We had two cast members helping us, a man and a woman. I won't name them, but I will refer to them as A (the man) and B (the woman). A was completely understanding that we had a couple students coming in late, and told us not to worry about it and just to tell them to hurry. B looked increasingly irritated as the minutes ticked by, but the students came five minutes later. Our conductor apologized, and we hurried in. I understood her frustration, as I'm sure Disney likes to keep a tight schedule.

    Because of this, we hurried to grab our things from the bus and prep ourselves for the performance. However, once we had our instruments out, the cast members had not given clear instructions where we were supposed to report to change into our uniforms. As a result, my friends and I ended up accidentally entering the back of the Aladdin stage show, running into a couple confused performers. A cast member from that building quickly spotted us and politely asked where she could lead us. She led us to the correct building, and B looked furious. A simply gave us a cheery encouragement to change quickly, which we did. We then took our instruments to tune and make our seating formation so that B could chart out how many seats we would need. Then she looked up at us and threw a fit.

    She immediately began to single out multiple students who had "appearance issues." She told us that we were not allowed to have open-toed shoes, and told a few girls that their strapless dresses were not acceptable for performance. She also pointed out a girl's "inappropriate" combat boots. (The combat boots were just your standard lace up, all black boots.) We were confused, since our conductor's informational flyer had simply told us "tuxedos for the boys, and all black dresses for the girls." Our conductor apologized once again, and cast member A chimed in with yet another "don't worry about it, let's just try and fix it." We scrambled around to find extra articles of clothing on the bus that we could substitute to make the clothes acceptable, and in the end it all worked out.

    Cast member B then tried to arrange us into position, by yelling. "I'm using my OUTSIDE voice, because you are not listening to me!" she kept screaming. I was surprised, since she had gotten my peers' attention, yet she continued to scream at us. I felt extremely guilty that my school had been so ill-informed/unprepared in the wardrobe department, but the fact that she was in such a terrible mood from the start began to irritate me. We were trying to be performance-ready as quickly and efficiently as possible, but they had not informed us where to be, what to do, where to go next. When my school had performed at Disneyland, it was not like this at all. The cast member at Disneyland had politely and cheerily told us all the information prior to sending us off to change, and everything had always gone smoothly. This was the first time that I had ever such an experience with performing at Disney.

    While I was waiting to perform, I noticed that cast member A tried to calm his co-worker down, telling her that these things happen and the only thing that they could do was try to make it go as smoothly as they could. Cast member B snapped back complaining that all the incidents would have to be written down in her report, and that she would get in trouble for having us be late, wardrobe issues, etc.

    Again, I felt bad, but her attitude towards us didn't make me feel too bad.

    While we were ready, she addressed all of us, saying that the All-American College Band had gone ahead instead of us since we were running late, and that they were so professional, so wonderful, and timely. It seemed like a dig at all of us, and it caused a lot of glances amongst our group.

    We finally walked out there, did our performance, and came back. We were instructed to stand next to a backdrop where they would take our photo, (where B did some more yelling in her "outside voice") and then we were allowed to change into our normal clothes and dismissed.

    Now I know that we may have unintentionally caused some issues for the cast members, but B could have addressed those issues in a more mature, efficient way. Like how A was trying to handle the matter. I'm not trying to sound like a wounded, whiny teenager, but I felt attacked the entire time I was backstage. As I said before, this never, ever happened when I was performing at Disneyland. What do you guys think? Were we completely at fault, or could have the cast members handled it better?

  2. #2

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Sorry you had that bad experience. Maybe the CM's dog died that morning. If not, hopefully she'll find a job that better suits her.

    See the Beatles movie, "A Hard Day's Night" and see how they happily responded to that uptight TV director.

    I hope the rest of your day there was nice.

    Please send a copy of your post above to the head of Disneyland Entertainment and to the president of Disneyland. If "B" just had a bad day it might just have been a one-time fluke, but if she's often making days less magical for young performers and they get a couple of letters like yours from different groups, Disney should find someone better to do her job.

    When I worked at Disneyland there was an awful CM who openly hated guests. He was a drag to work with and I hoped guests would complain about him. CM "A" in you post might hope you'll write a letter too.

    Your polite tone made your post more credible, btw. I think I'll write down to emulate that in my posts on Micechat. Nah, I'm sure I'll remember.

  3. #3

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    I have associates who've performed as outside bands contracted for performances by Disneyland who still get gigs there on occasion. Your experience isn't that far out of line with theirs - occasionally you get someone who forgets you're not "family" and starts treating you like a direct employee of the park... or worse, as you found. CM A sounds like the general experience most of them talk about, if that helps.
    Credibility is to be sought for. Credulity is not. Sadly the latter is our normal human state.

  4. #4

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    The rest of my day was perfect, besides the incidents backstage! I have to commend the rest of the CMs I saw that day, as it was blistering hot. The food service carts were so polite, and all the ride operators and WOC queue CMs were all exceptionally excellent that day.

    I'll definitely try to contact Disney. Would I find their contact information on the Disneyland website?

    And thank you for saying that! When it comes to things like this that make me angry, I try to be as polite as I can to get the point across. I graduated already, so I probably won't get to perform at DLR any time soon. Still, I want to improve the experience for my underclassmen peers.

  5. #5

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by BogLurch View Post
    I have associates who've performed. . .
    Bog, as much as I loved your ribald group at the adults-only stage at the Renaissance Fair, please tell me Disney didn't judge your group by your costumes and hire Poxy Boggards to perform for the kiddies in Fantasyland!

  6. #6

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by jcruise86 View Post
    Bog, as much as I loved your ribald group at the adults-only stage at the Renaissance Fair, please tell me Disney didn't judge your group by your costumes and hire Poxy Boggards to perform for the kiddies in Fantasyland!
    ROFL oh no possible way. We apparently somehow entered the discussion YEARS ago for a potential short scene in the first POTC movie, but that's as close to on property as they allow us in a group.

    I've talked with several local bar/festival bands that get hired in, mostly DCA. Good guys, get paid VERY well, have nothing but glowing reports with the occasional... er... "overenthusiastic" CM giving them grief. One guy got yelled at for showing up with long hair and a mustache. I'm guessing the CM in question wasn't part of their chain of command.
    Credibility is to be sought for. Credulity is not. Sadly the latter is our normal human state.

  7. #7

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by BogLurch View Post
    I have associates who've performed as outside bands contracted for performances by Disneyland who still get gigs there on occasion. Your experience isn't that far out of line with theirs - occasionally you get someone who forgets you're not "family" and starts treating you like a direct employee of the park... or worse, as you found. CM A sounds like the general experience most of them talk about, if that helps.
    As much as I hate pulling out this phrase... "We're high school kids!"
    We're not professionals, (as much as I'd love to be!) hahaha!

  8. #8

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    You should have told her if she used her inside voice perhaps people would listen to her.
    It sounds like the "B" is in the wrong job.

  9. #9

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMagicFlower View Post
    The rest of my day was perfect, besides the incidents backstage! I have to commend the rest of the CMs I saw that day, as it was blistering hot. The food service carts were so polite, and all the ride operators and WOC queue CMs were all exceptionally excellent. . .
    Good to hear! As long as it has human guests and CMs, and machines built by humans, Disneyland will never be perfect, but many of us Micechatters hope for and (unrealistically?) expect excellence.

    Google and phone calls should get you a list of folks to write. With your computer, it might not be too hard to write half a dozen.

    Long story I've told before and will tell again about writing letters to Disney: Back in the 90s, my high school girls wrote a dozen of Disney's very top people (Eisner, Wells, Katzenberg, Roy, Jr., Pressler, etc) to let them know they were going to change Disneyland's policy of not allowing women to work on the Jungle Cruise. Step three in their open plan was to invite Gloria Allred and the media to a rally outside of Disneyland where they (the girls, not Allred) would out-charm Disneyland's Ambassadors. Michael Eisner's secretary said they had a nice (not derisive) laugh about our letters (on school stationary, btw, signed by about 25-30 girls) before a board meeting.

    Then Disneyland President Paul Pressler called me and sent two Disneyland Ambassadors to our U.S. History class where they taught a class about Walt's role during World War II, showing Disney's propaganda cartoons, and at the end of the class they gave each girl a folder containing gifts that included a pass to Disneyland. It was before lunch at a small school. Word spread. I was temporarily cool.

    Lesson learned: writing letters is worthwhile and doesn't take that long. Pressler said they just happened to be training the first women/girls to work on the Jungle Cruise when our letters arrived. I believed him, but I when I told this story to Gloria Allred years later on an elevator in Palm Springs (with Amber Frey), she skeptically said, "Yeah, right." when I got to that part.

  10. #10

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by jcruise86 View Post
    Good to hear! As long as it has human guests and CMs, and machines built by humans, Disneyland will never be perfect, but many of us Micechatters hope for and (unrealistically?) expect excellence.

    Google and phone calls should get you a list of folks to write. With your computer, it might not be too hard to write half a dozen.

    Long story I've told before and will tell again about writing letters to Disney: Back in the 90s, my high school girls wrote a dozen of Disney's very top people (Eisner, Wells, Katzenberg, Roy, Jr., Pressler, etc) to let them know they were going to change Disneyland's policy of not allowing women to work on the Jungle Cruise. Step three in their open plan was to invite Gloria Allred to a rally outside of Disneyland where they (the girls, not Allred) would outcharm Disneyland's Ambassadors. Michael Eisner's secretary said they had a nice (not derisive) laugh about our letters (on school stationary, btw, signed by about 25-30 girls) before a board meeting.

    Then Disneyland President Paul Pressler called me and sent two Disneyland Ambassadors to our U.S. History class where they taught a class about Walt's role during World War II, showing Disney's propaganda cartoons, and at the end of the class they gave each girl a folder containing gifts that included a pass to Disneyland.

    Lesson learned: writing letters is worthwhile and doesn't take that long. Pressler said they just happeded to be training the first women/girls to work on the Jungle Cruise when our letters arrived. I believed him, but I when I told this story to Gloria Allred years later on an elevator in Palm Springs (with Amber Frey), she skeptically said, "Yeah, right." when I got to that part.
    That's amazing! That is the coolest thing about Disney. They really do take public opinions very seriously.

  11. #11

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    I am sorry to hear of your experience there was no magic from CM B. Things happen and A went with the flow. I have met many CMs and for the most part they are good but as one of the imagineers told me once the bad ones will weed themselves out. It takes a very special person to be a CM and CM B doesn't strike me as very special. I am sure it took some of the magic away for you that day which is very UnDisney. I hope that all your future days at DL are more magical.

  12. #12

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by BogLurch View Post
    ROFL oh no possible way. We apparently somehow entered the discussion YEARS ago for a potential short scene in the first POTC movie. . .
    You'd've fit in.

    BTW, thanks to Micechat for wishing me a Happy Birthday! every year. I'm 50 today, so everyone should expect a new level of maturity from me. Yes, another thing--be more mature--to write down. . . nah.

  13. #13

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Skimbob View Post
    I am sorry to hear of your experience there was no magic from CM B. Things happen and A went with the flow. I have met many CMs and for the most part they are good but as one of the imagineers told me once the bad ones will weed themselves out. It takes a very special person to be a CM and CM B doesn't strike me as very special. I am sure it took some of the magic away for you that day which is very UnDisney. I hope that all your future days at DL are more magical.
    It'll take more than one CM to take away the Disney magic from me! Once I saw World of Color later that night, I was quite comforted.

  14. #14

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMagicFlower View Post
    As much as I hate pulling out this phrase... "We're high school kids!"
    We're not professionals, (as much as I'd love to be!) hahaha!
    NEVER let that be an excuse to let someone treat you poorly when you are *invited* to perform someplace. Disney invited your group, and from your reports what little "bad" behavior was well within acceptable. While I haven't performed for *Disney* I have done gigs at "professional" venues, and even when dealing with the most drunken, destructive level of behavior out there they tend to pride themselves on delivering at least a professional level of interaction. CM B was not on that plan.
    Credibility is to be sought for. Credulity is not. Sadly the latter is our normal human state.

  15. #15

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    Re: My Experience Performing at DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by BogLurch View Post
    NEVER let that be an excuse to let someone treat you poorly when you are *invited* to perform someplace. Disney invited your group, and from your reports what little "bad" behavior was well within acceptable.
    What I meant from that phrase was that we were high school kids, and can't really be expected to be held at a professional's standard. Mistakes are a given when you're dealing with teenaged performers, and that does not call for "outside voices" of any kind!

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