Ever just have one of those weeks where you can’t wait for it to end. This week has been one of those weeks. And right now, I am wishing it was tomorrow… Work has kind of sucked. The only really cool part about my week was Wednesday, despite the fact I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. They had arranged an Area Greeter appreciation event at work. I had no clue what was in store, all I knew was that I hadn’t been an Area Greeter in quite a while. For those of you who don’t know, an Area Greeter basically acts as a roaming guest relations Cast Member at the Disneyland Resort. We basically walk around in our themed areas and help guests with any questions or concerns. I held this position for a good year, however when I became a Working Lead I was pretty much stripped of the area greeter duties due to the promotion. Regardless, I was invited to this event which was truly amazing and inspiring. The day started out at 7:30 with donuts and orange juice. I couldn’t complain there. After that it was basically a huge meet and greet with all the other Area Greeters that showed up to the event. We had greeters from all over; Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, and of course the familiar faces that I knew from the Paradise Pier/Golden State area. I met a Cast Member who had worked for the Resort for 45 years and had known Walt. Sadly, he will be retiring later this month. After about a half an hour of visiting and introductions we all got together for a huge group photo of all the greeters in front of the castle. Following the photo shoot we met up with three Guest Relations Hosts. We split up into three groups and began a more relaxed version of The Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour which is offered to the guests for $49 a person. We began the tour at the front of Disneyland where we learned about the making of the park and how the whole entrance was meant to resemble a movie theater. There is only one main entrance, when you enter it is paved with red brick to resemble a red carpet. To your left and right are two tunnels each lined with posters of attractions, much like the posters in movie theaters of future releases. Then on the other side of the tunnel is “The Show”. I never really thought of all of it that way, but then after it was explained I was like, “Wow that’s a trip that I never noticed that.” Marty, the cast member giving us the tour, then told us about some interesting history of Main Street and how Walt used authentic pieces much like that on a movie set. The two canons in Town Square are actual french canons that were used in battle. The base that holds the flag pole was actually the base to a lightpost on Wilshire Blvd. in the 50’s that had been purchased from the citly of Los Angeles for five dollars after it was hit during a car accident. All the lights on main street are historical pieces bought from Boston and Philadelphia. Interesting huh?
After that we got a quick run down of the history of Walt and his career in the Walt Disney Story room in the lobby to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I can’t believe Snow White grossed 8.5 million dollars when tickets were twenty-five cents for adults and ten cents for children. That is an insane ammount of money. Following a brief history we then were taken to experience something very few get to do. We were given a tour of Walt’s apartment located above City Hall. Very few have had the chance to do this and it isn’t normally part of the tour. Only two pictures have ever been published of the apartment once in National Geographic and once a few years back in the Disney Magazine. Truly an amazing little place. The room is decorated with various Victorian era artwork and furniture and smells musty as though an old person still lived there.
Following the apartment we took a trip down Main Street where we learned a bit about the people who’s names are featured on various windows along the street. At the hub in front of the castle we learned about the “Partners” statue featuring Walt and Mickey Mouse and how it came to be. We were also told of the tops of the castle and how all but one are made of real gold, however there is one made of bronze in order to ensure Walt’s quote was true that, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Walt wanted all of the tops of the castle to be gold, however if one wasn’t that would ensure that Disneyland would not be complete on opening day in 1955. Never have I learned of a man with so much imagination and so much heart. I couldn’t believe some of the things he came up with, innovative things that most people could never fathom. It reminds me of why I continue to work for the Walt Disney company regardless of what happens. Walt had a vision, a dream that he would create a place so wonderful that could transport people the the happiest place they could imagine. They could leave their worries at the main gate and just enjoy themselves. You can go to Knott’s Berry Farm or Six Flags and ride insane roller coasters, but you’ll never experience that magic that Disneyland has.
I got to do a few more interesting things that day. We took a tour of Circle D which is basically the ranch where they take care of all the horses. There we got to see Noel, the first horse to be born at the Resort. She was born on Christmas Day 2003. We saw every stage coach and buggy ever used at the Resort all in a garage just waiting to be used again or to be put on display. Our day ended at the Pope House, which is the only original structure still standing from when the Orange Groves were bought to build Disneyland. It now houses offices for the Circle D cast members. While there we received a personal copy of the group photo from the morning, a personalized lanyard, pizza, soda, and an incredible “thank you” speech from both of the theme park attractions operations managers. By the end of the day, I was feeling really good and really inspired. I could probably go find another job and make more money or do something that may give me experience for later in life. I stay at The Disneyland Resort however, because I know that every day I make someones day. Each day I help create a magical memory for children and adults from all over the world. Almost everyone has a great memory from Disneyland and as long as the magic of the resort exists that will never change. I could go work an office job, a retail job, a food service job, but in doing so I wouldn’t touch as many lives as I do now. I know this post is kinda sappy, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this inspired. With that in mind I end this with a quote.
“To all who come to this happy place, Welcome! Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideas, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
– Walter Elias Disney, July 17, 1955.