Monday, January 8, 2018

5,000 Pages of Disneyland Lines Thesaurused

Tonight I thesaurused my 5,000th page of Disneyland Line material. (I'll get to what that means in a minute.) Back when I was a teenager, I received a collection of of Disneyland Lines and other Cast Member materials which stretched back to the late 1970s. I considered myself well-read on Disneyland history, but the Lines had countless stories about things I otherwise knew nothing about. They were a window into a Disneyland I did not know and felt I could know no other way. I doubted then that I would ever have access to a complete collection.

Fast forward a few years and my conception for the Disneyland Compendium (the ultimate Disneyland reference work) included the need to methodically comb the entirety of the Disneyland Line run (then 30 years, now approaching 50), as well as other Cast Member publications. My belief in that approach hasn't wavered, and I was fortunate enough ten years ago to be put in touch with a Cast Member who had saved nearly a complete collection and let me borrow his binders to systematically scan. The more I reviewed, the more certain I became of my approach.

While the Lines have been a major focus of the project (as evidenced by the number of pages reviewed to date), they certainly don't tell the full Disneyland story. Other Cast Member publications on which I have relied include the Disneylander (512 pages, largely completed in 2012); Backstage Disneyland (182 pages, 9 issues); and the Inside Disneyland newsletter (240 pages, 65 issues). Other sources include The Disneyland News (260 pages, 19 issues), The "E" Ticket (620 pages, 19 issues), several books (including the 2006 Disney A-Z and the 2000 Disneyland: The Nickel Tour), and 788 newspaper articles and advertisements.

I learned early on in the thesaurus construction process that it was important to have a variety of types of sources, because it ensures the best chance to capture diverse concepts and terms. But with the benefit of time, some of the depth is also starting to come through. I may be entering information about a Cast Member in the thesaurus only to find that I had previously input a story about their arrival, or their retirement, or even occasionally an obituary. My work carefully documenting the Line's terminology helped reveal when the Park began the shift from "Disneyland employees" to "Cast Members."

I've talked a lot about the sources I've used, but haven't yet addressed my use of "thesaurus" as a verb. It means that I have read, analyzed, and transcribed the text for relevant Disneyland-centric portions and entered it into the thesaurus (database). I have also entered any new relationships that the source suggests.

5,000 pages of Disneyland Lines doesn't mean that everything on each of those pages is relevant and has been entered. The activities sponsored by the Disneyland Recreation Club, for example, occur frequently in the Line but are not quite as represented in the thesaurus. I include mentions of Cast Members, but not what those sporting events were. This linkage ensures that if someone were interested in a particular Cast Member, they could still follow the reference to find out more. This came in handy a number of years back with a co-worker whose mom had worked at Disneyland, before dying of cancer when the co-worker was young. I was able to find reference to her on a DRC bowling team, a fact which was new to her.

Let's take a look at the process, using a particular Line (December 24, 1987) that put me over 5,000 pages and is pedestrian but for one detail. This one represents my first (and I believe only) mention in the Disneyland Line. I do feel that there is some irony in that I appeared at the age of 5 and in all the years since of researching and writing about Disneyland, as well as being one of the more voracious readers of the Line, have not made it back.

While I've been writing that I treat the entire issues as a source, the reality is that I break it into manageable units based on the level of "aboutness." Practically for the Disneyland Line, this breaks on an article basis. I generally try to associate the article text with a single term in the thesaurus, which sometimes results in the creation of a new term.

For any publication, my first step is to enter the colophonic information so I know who contributed to the publication and can trace changes in the title and personnel. For example, for a time in the 1970s, the Disneyland Line logo was changed to The Disneyland Line, but other references (such as in the colophon) omitted the definite article. So, in the thesaurus, I've kept the publication as Disneyland Line from its beginnings until it was renamed Disneyland Resort Line with the December 31, 1999 issue.

The first unit following the colophon, as is often the case, is the cover story. For several years, Disneyland had a Children's Christmas Art Contest, for young relatives (children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews) to create Christmas illustrations based on a given theme. I participated a few times, but this was the only time my failure was documented in print.

The cover page, at the beginning of the post, didn't yield any information except for the title.

This Line was a little unusual in that it had pages which folded out, so you see the first- and second-place winners before getting to the story describing them.

Each of these Cast Members has a new term created or an existing term updated, as well as linked to their work location.

Now we get to the heart of the story. I created a new term Children's Christmas Art Contest to serve as an umbrella term for all instances, and then a narrower term (NT) Children's Christmas Art Contest (1987). They were both assigned categories of Cast Member program, currency of former, and Disneyland Resort era relevance (DLRERA) of 1980s. I noted that I was mentioned in this Line. The other children, with one exception, were entered in the plain text field, but were not entered as new terms. The exception was Nate Jurczyk, because I already had him in the thesaurus as a Food Operations Cast Member.

The next page contributed to three main terms: Candlelight Procession & Ceremony (1987); Jones, Velma; and Ebierno, Fred. Town Square; Candlelight Procession, The (1987); Train Station (Main Street, U.S.A.); Main Street; and Disney Employee Choir were also referenced in the SRC field. Interestingly, although I already had 14,000 Cast Members in the thesaurus, I did not have either of the retirees, who had been there for nine and 19 years.

This page yielded little information—only SRCs for Accounting Control; Area Office; Barbara Warren; Publicity; and Disneyland Community Action Team.

Although the 1988 Tournament of Roses Parade did not have a Disneyland entry, it did have Disneyland involvement through the Float Drivers pictured here, and the float co-sponsored by The Walt Disney Company. I had only previously come across the term Float Drivers in the Disneyland Line of June 10, 1976, and had no associated Cast Members. This article contributed information to the 1988 Tournament of Roses Parade term, as well as those for the named/pictured Cast Members.

The Cast Activities department replaced the Disneyland Recreation Club in coordinating extracurricular activities for the Cast. The only thing I used from this page were SRCs for WDI and Studio (Walt Disney Studios).

The final page again contains very little information used in the thesaurus, aside from the colophon which I examined at the beginning of the issue.

The entire process for this issue took about an hour, including transcription. This Line contributed to 100 notes within the thesaurus. Some terms will have multiple notes from this issue, such as a SRC for Candlelight Procession, The (1987) and definitional information in Candlelight Procession & Ceremony (1987). The Line contributed information on 29 Cast Members, including the two children who I know went on to the role later in life. 14 of these Cast Members were new to the thesaurus, while the other 15 had appeared before—sometimes from multiple sources. For example, Jurczyk, Dee appeared frequently because of her role with Cast Activities. My earliest reference to Byrne, Bill came from the November 1970 Inside Disneyland, when he completed an introductory training program.

In all, Disneyland Lines have contributed to information in 21,585 terms across the thesaurus. It's been quite a resource to this project and I look forward to continue combing through them. Maybe in the next thirty years I'll have the opportunity to appear again!


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