Sunday, December 19, 2010

Disneyland's Information Board

When I started visiting Disneyland with exceptional frequency, on the order of three or more times a week in the summer of 1997, the first Cast Members I befriended were the Guest Relations folks at the Information Board in Disneyland's Central Plaza. Many of them loved Disneyland as much as I did and were happy to share information on upcoming events and projects--especially Jorge, who worked there five days a week and understood my fascination with Disneyland. They tolerated me far more than they needed to, as I would recognize when I was a few years older.

For me, the Disneyland Information Board is the perfect place to work at the Park. It's outdoors in the center of the Park, so it offers the best immersion experience of any stationary position. Because of its location and function, you're likely to run into friends who are visiting the Park. You get to wear a radio and call many attractions every hour, so you know what's going on--every CFA [Central First Aid] run, every attraction breakdown, and every liaison between Cast Members with radios. You'd get to see the parade pass by. Most importantly, it's purely an information position. Guests would occasionally come to us with problems, but there was very little we could do for them at the Information Board. I would direct them to City Hall and go back to humming along with the Main Street music loop. The biggest problem is that it's one of the first places Guest Relations Cast Members are trained; as soon as you get enough seniority to really request shifts, your skills are more valuable in other locations, like City Hall.

Ten years ago today, on Tuesday, December 19, 2000, I worked my first On Stage shift, at the Information Board. I wasn't scheduled this day, but got a call in the morning asking if I would like to come in. They might as well have asked me if I'd like to meet Walt Disney. Of course, I jumped at the chance and asked my parents to come document it. (They very graciously did; as you've likely guessed, the above photo is the three of us.) I honestly don't remember that much about my first shift, so I'm very glad to have the photos!

Here my mom plays the part of a Guest. I may have been explaining that sometimes strollers are stolen from Guests, but that the child can even so grow up to be a Disneyland Cast Member.

Note that the sign reads "Disneyland" "Park Hours:" and not "Disneyland Park" "Hours:".

Looking at the board now, I see a number of nomenclature issues. The definite article "the" is used incorrectly to preface "Country Bear Christmas Special" and "Golden Horseshoe Variety Show." "Fantasmic" is missing its characteristic exclamation point(!). The wait times don't look too bad for a late December day, and based on the Splash Mountain wait time and Guest attire, it looks like it was a warm day. (Oh, wait, I have that information: the high was 79 and the low was 47.)

My strongest memory from this day comes from when it was time to close up. Note that the fireworks were set for 9:30 PM. My shift also ended at that time. With the 15 minutes of "walk time," I would probably have been aiming to have the Board closed up by 9 PM. To close it, we had to get the wait time and show signs ready for the next day, the podium covered, and the cabinets and shutters locked. This was the first year of special holiday fireworks including snow, so a considerable number of Guests wanted to know the best place to experience the snow. My explanation included some pointing further into the Central Plaza and on to Main Street. This didn't cause much of a problem with changing the signs or covering the podium, but interfered with the locking up. The keyring for the Information Board should have included only a couple of keys, at most (if the cabinets and shutters really needed different locks). However, the keyring had about thirty keys--the correct ones being a complete mystery to me. I was not able to overcome the combination of the need to point to the snow and the need to keep track of which keys I had tried in the darkness, and ended up calling for another Cast Member to come assist. The next time I worked the Information Board, most of those keys had vanished.

Because of the seniority issue, I didn't get to work the Information Board very much--only about a dozen times between December 2000 and July 2002. I'm still a bit envious of Cast Members who get to work the Board. It was integral to my wanting to become a Disneyland Cast Member and finally getting to work was everything I hoped it would be.


Disney Nametags and More said...

I like the picture with the tour guide. It's the first picture I've ever seen with a CM actually wearing the Light Magic nametag!

Major Pepperidge said...

It's great to hear about your experiences as a new Cast Member; those are nice photos with your mom and dad too; they look pretty proud.

Anonymous said...

An update! Love the blog, keep up the good work.

Matterhorn1959 said...

Fantastic pictures of a young Mr. Schultz. Thanks for sharing.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Awesome post! You look so official with the radio thing in your ear!

I'm surprised the info board is still updated manually - they call each attraction and ask them the status. It does look better than a sea of digital numbers!

Nice to see an update from Mr. Compendium (with vintage personal photos to boot!) - where have ya been?

Matterhorn1959 said...

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Nice pics! I have one of the "Light Magic" maps in pic #2. The Carnation Plaza Gardens sign is absent in pic #4; that was when the restaurant portion was demolished, if I recall.