Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Let the Storm Rage On

Six years after walking into the underground cast maze of Disneyland, I walked out for the last time.

I watched the park change a lot during those years. When I first arrived, there was no Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch or Mystic Point. With the expansions of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, the park is bigger than it used to be, but still the smallest Disneyland in the world. In the next few years, Tomorrowland will get even bigger and there will be a Frozen Land.

I was there during the Celebration in the Air 5th anniversary and the Happily Ever After 10th anniversary. I watched 4 different parades and participated in 1 1/2. I watched the Disney in the Stars fireworks show become the Nightmare in the Sky for Halloween, as well as other dressing changes for Christmas, Halloween and Chinese New Year.

The biggest change to Tomorrowland was when it was remodeled into a Star Wars Tomorrowland, but oddly enough, the Star Tours ride was changed to an Iron Man ride. They will add more Marvel themes in the future, with an Ant Man ride replacing Buzz Lightyear, and some other Avengers ride in 2023.

Working at Disneyland was never meant to be a lifelong career. Most performers rarely work more than a year or two. Being a face character was always a temporary gig. I got too old to do that pretty fast. Fortunately, there were always plenty of stage shows, which also changed a lot over the years.

I met a lot of people working at Disneyland. Most came and went quickly. Some I already don't remember. A few are hard to forget. One became my roommate and best friend.

When you work at Disneyland, you're not allowed to talk about any behind the scenes details. Facebook and Twitter were specifically mentioned in my contract. They want to keep the illusion alive as much as possible. Talking to people who work at McDonald's can make you sick to your stomach. Talking to people who work at Disneyland can spoil some of the magic. Telling a child that Mickey is really a small Chinese woman in an itchy costume is like telling them that Santa only goes to rich kids.

As a former cast member, I'm now free to spill as many beans as I want. One friend told me that I should write a book about it. But there are already too many of those. I don't have any axe to grind or unique hook. I have nothing especially bad to say about the place and publishers don't want happy tales about a happy place. My experience was mostly positive and I'm sure I'll go back to visit sooner or later.

The downside to quitting is that I lost that sweet free pass. Disneyland is very expensive.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No hate, please. There's enough of that in the world already.