John Cawley
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Frames of Time...

067_04 - You're Fired...
To appear current, I thought I'd use the popular phrase as a lead in. I was working at the Jungle Cruise the first time I heard of someone being fired. It was a fellow Cruiser.

At the time, Tomorrowland in Disneyland had two attractions that are no longer there. First was the People Mover, a modern monorail that ran around Tomorrowland and through some of the rides. It was sort of a miniature, overhead version of the Disneyland Train. As it went around Tomorrowland, the narrator would explain the various rides. One structure it went through housed a model for the city of tomorrow.

The model was on a floor above a huge circular theater. It had been built in the 1960s and housed the "World of Tomorrow" attraction. By the time I was at Disneyland, it was playing "America Sings," a tribute to the history of music in America. Each stage featured a different segment utilizing audio-animatronic figures. The theater was unique in that the stage did not rotate, like many modern stages do to change the scene in plays and musicals.

The Disneyland attraction had the audience seats revolve around the center, while the stage stood still. After one sequence ended, the stage would go dark. Then the outer ring of the floor, with the audience, would rotate until it was in front of the stage hosting the next sequence. One tragic day, an employee was standing in the wrong place during the show. When the floor rotated, the employee was caught between walls. The employee died.

The next day on the Jungle Cruise, one of the Captains was going through the standard exit patter as folks left the boat. This string of adlibs was usually a mix of event announcements (parades, shows, etc.) and gags about the Park. That day he added the comment to "check out the new attraction in Tomorrowland, the people crusher". A Park manager heard the joke. The captain was terminated that day.

Notwithstanding this use of poor taste, most of the chatter used by Captains on the Cruise was funny and occasionally topical. Every Captain admired someone who had a strong portside manner.

Not surprisingly, the Park "frowned" at the idea of Captain's going off the approved script. The script, written back in the 1950s, lasted 7 minutes, but the Captains were asked to do the trip in 5 minutes. Adlibbing to make the edits work was common. Oddly, most of the complaints registered about the Jungle Cruise chatter came from lines in the script! Most complained about were the comments about women drivers and mothers-in-law.

I still use some of my Cruise chatter. It still gets groans and an occasional laugh. I'll share some of the more popular portside chatter in another frame.

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