Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cast Member Knowledge

Imagineering Disney had a great post yesterday about cast member's knowledge of Magic Kingdom/Disney.  You can read it here. 

Mitch approached random cast members and asked them about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Skyway, Carousel of Progress, and Splash Mountain (to name a few).  Their answers were a bit surprising.  Why do Disney cast members know so little about Disney history?   Now, as he states in the original post, some of these cast members could have been new hires from the College Program which gives them a little bit of an excuse.  Here's my theory on the rest of them.

When I was in the Disney College Program, on the days when I would venture outside of Disney property, I found that almost every person I met had at some time worked for Disney.  The deli guy at Publix, the guy who changes your oil, and almost everyone who works at Universal claims to have been fired by Disney.  In Orlando working for Disney is not the glamorous job that Disney fans think of it as, it's just a huge place that is always hiring.  Do you know the history of the company you work for, probably not?  Then again, this is Disney World, why can't a cast member tell you the name of Splash Mountain?

I took the Disney Traditions class, the College Program course is shorter than the one regular cast members take, which I find odd since a majority of cast members are in the college program.  So, how much Disney history is discussed in Traditions?  In my experience, not much.  There was a short video about the company, but most of the class was done from a work book.

There was one page in the book that had around 10 pictures from Walt's birth to the opening of Animal Kingdom that you had to put in order, but that was about it for company history.

Before you start work you spend a day walking around your new work location.  You have probably noticed a group of well dressed people walking around the parks in the mornings, these are most likely new cast members.  I worked at Downtown Disney, so I don't know exactly what is discussed with Magic Kingdom CM's but i'd bet they go over park history and the names of attractions.

So, who's fault is it when a 16 year old kid who pushes strollers around or asks "how many in your party" doesn't know there used to be a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction?  I'd say a little bit Disney's and a little bit their own.

We can't force them to learn Disney history, but we can pray that they apply at Universal.....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rushmore Day!

Did you know February 19th is officially Rushmore Day in Houston?

Last week I went to a 15th Anniversary screening of Rushmore at The Alalmo Drafthouse in Houston. The films star, Jason Schwartzman was in attendance to meet fans and answer questions before the film.  After the Q&A he was given a proclamation from Houston's Mayor naming February 19th Rushmore Day.

The reason for all of this was because Rushmore was filmed in Houston, and the director, Wes Anderson is a Houston native.  If you have never seen the film, you are really missing out.  Bill Murray is in it, what else do you need?

I wrote about the film a few years ago and took some "then and now" photos of the locations, you can see them here.

I also had the chance to meet Jason, here's the proof.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tales From The College Program: Ken's Hell Day

My primary role while working for Disney was at The Missing Link Sausage Company on Pleasure Island.  A few days a month I would work at Cirque Du Soleil as a backer for the concession stand cashiers.  The jobs consisted of filling drinks and getting popcorn buckets.  It was very rare that someone from Cirque came to work at the Link.  One day a coworker called in sick and Ken was the unlucky guy who was chosen to fill in.  He would be working with me and Dan (the dream team).

The great thing about working at The Link was the lack of management.  We would come in at 6 and spend an hour getting the restaurant ready for guests.  Right before 7 our manager John would come in, give us the money for the drawer, then go up to his office for a few minutes before heading back to Cirque where he would spend the rest of the night.  We probably wouldn't see him again until almost 1 AM.

The Link was so small that it only needed 2 people working most nights.  Ken came in on a weekend when we needed 3.  We spent a good portion of the night hazing him.  I think we even stuck him on the grill that night. Dan and I were known to have to pretty messy water fights while working.  I'd be up at the register and hear him call me into the back.  No sooner had I left the guests view would I see Dan with a bucket of water flinging it at me.  Our costume pants were black, and our shirts were also so dark and thick that you could be soaking wet and no one would notice (we also wore black hats).  So, Ken spent a good portion of the night soaked.

A few days before this The Link had a new ice machine delivered.  At the time it had not been hooked up yet.  When it was time for me to go on break I told Dan, "In a minute tell Ken to check the new ice machine to see if it was working yet."  While Dan went back up front I put a trash bag inside of the ice bin, climbed inside of it, and closed the lid.  When Ken came back to check on the ice I jumped out just as he was opening the door and scared the crap out of him.  He ran across the room screaming.

Just so you don't think that Dan and I are horrible people, we did let Ken eat whatever leftover food he wanted at the end of the night.  Dan might have even made him his famous "Missing Link Sampler"  which consisted of everything we sold wrapped up in a spinach tortilla.

I had asked Ken earlier in the night how he was getting home, he told us he was taking the bus.  I told him "Don't worry about the bus, you can come home with Dan and I." (Notice how I didn't say ride)  We all lived at Vista Way and as I have explained in previous posts, catching the bus at the end of the night was not easy.  On this night however the timing to take the bus was perfect, but since we had already told Ken he could come with us he ignored it and kept walking through the parking lot.  At some point he noticed that there were no cars to be found and Dan and I were still walking.  He asked "Hey, where is you car?"  I replied "I don't have one."  That's right, Ken was going to walk home with us, and not only walk, he was going to run across I-4.

We took Ken to our spot behind the Hilton where we would jump a fence that would leave us right beside I-4.  There was a tree we used to climb that was easier than hoping the fence on it's own, we let Ken go first.  He broke our tree.  After Dan and I were over, the three of us ran across I-4 with no problem.  From there we just had to get Ken over the much larger, less sturdy fence that surrounded Vista Way.  We eventually made it and Ken's hell day was over.

He told everyone at Cirque about it which really just made Dan and I more popular.  From then on we could go to Cirque and do almost nothing to the amusement of all the other CP's, but that's another story.

Sorry Ken.....