I grew up in a household that enjoyed Disney. While we weren’t a family that hit Disney World (or Disneyland) every year, my brother and I did grow up knowing the movies, either on VHS or in the theater. We grew up with soundtracks on vinyl and cassette, we grew up with comic books and storybooks, we even had the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh on the wall in our bedroom growing up. And yes, we did hit Disney World a few times, as well, which was always pretty keen and more special when you aren’t going all the time. The last time I went to the park in Orlando was back in January of 1996, for a college course covering Disney, pop culture, and American culture. One would think that, by that point, I would have had my fill, but that is not the case.
Fast forward to late summer of 2002. I had just spent two years in southern California, and I couldn’t make a living out there, so I had moved back home. In my searches for work, I thought I had lucked out by nabbing a management position at The Disney Store at Castleton Square Mall, here in Indianapolis. I showed up for training, clean shaven and ready to knock this out of the park, and everything was going swimmingly until midway through the training, when I was pulled aside during a break. It turned out that, due to reorganization, my position was being dissolved before I could even start! So, like that, I went from a full-time management position to a part-time sales position, which I still took because hey, this Geek needed the money! For the next month, I worked every hour I could, picking up shifts, working early mornings and overnights on deliveries and floor changes, until I found another job. Then, I gave my two weeks notice, worked every day, and moved on with life.
Jumping ahead five years, to December of 2007, I was back in SoCal because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time, and on a lark, I decided to drive to Anaheim for an “open casting” day at Disneyland. I waiting my turn to get on a computer, filled out my application, then got into another line for the review. When I got up to the cast member doing the reviews, they asked if I had worked for the company before. “Yes, I worked at The Disney Store in Indianapolis, Indiana.” At this time, they noted that The Disney Store was currently owned by The Children’s Place, and I advised them that it was before the purchase. She brightened up, and I gave her my information to look me up in the system. She confirmed my employment, and looked strangely at the screen for a moment before asking me if she could get a clarification on something on my file. She mentioned that I had a “glowing recommendation for rehire” with the company, but it also showed that I had only worked there for a month! Well, I grinned, filled her in on what happened, and she completely understood.
Kids, this is why you don’t burn your bridges, and just storm out of a job.
We finished the review, and I continued on with the process. Next up was an interview with a recruiter which also involved a second applicant, normally going for a different type of position. I sat in with a former Marine, who was looking to work security in the parks. The recruiter talked to him first, and then turned his attention to me. He noted that, while I was looking to work attractions, my application showed a strong retail background. I advised him that while that was true, I still would love to work attractions, especially something like The Jungle Cruise. He kept pushing the retail arm, telling me I’d probably get promoted faster, and I have more experience, until I finally got fed up (remember, this was on a lark, I already had a job) and told him that I could be a register jockey anywhere, not have to drive as far, and probably get paid a lot better. However, I wanted to work at Disneyland, because there I could do something like work attractions, and participate in the show, and not just peddle wares. At this point, I heard the Marine sigh, like “Well, he’s out,” at the same time the recruiter smiled, nodded, and told me that was the right answer.
I guess sometimes you get lucky.
After the interview, I went to work, and didn’t think too much of it until I got a call later, letting me know that they wanted to give me a job in attractions, but they had to wait until after the holiday rush before training. So, I waited until January, and started training. This was pretty uneventful, though we did get a cool backstage tour of areas that have since been bulldozed for the new Star Wars land, which wasn’t even in the cards back in ’08. At the end of the training, we were all given our assignments. I opened my pamphlet, and look at it in confusion.
What the heck was the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage?
Next Thursday, we’ll take a look at my time at the park, and a bit more!