Treasure and Trinkets

A Disneyland exit interview

You recently left your job at Disneyland. How long did you work there?

I was at Disneyland for nearly a year. I'd rather not say where I worked exactly, but I was near New Orleans Square. I hated it.

Others apparently love it.

Um, no, not exactly. I found most of the employees two-faced: they claimed to like their jobs when they were near higher-ups, but bad-mouthed the place whenever afforded a sympathetic ear.

What did they complain about?

Some of it was just normal employee bitching. Employees like to complain. Then there were the rats in the kitchen; sour employee soup; what a pain it was to stand around for eight to 10 hours without being able to lean on a wall; how condescending some of the guests were; and the agony of being asked, "Where is the bathroom?" 148 times a day.

How were guests condescending?

Some just seem to sense that company policy prohibits anything but the most saccharine response. I'll give you an example: one day a guest purchased a portrait. He left seemingly satisfied but returned a few hours later pissed-off. Somewhere in between, someone must have told him the portrait made him look like a meth addict because he came back and told me I had ripped him off—as if I had drawn the portrait or had anything to do with it, or had talked him into buying it and then forced him to lug it around the park for half a day. I was refunding this guy's money, and he was still bitching. But all I could do was take it or lose my job.

How did you respond?

I stole food. I stole treasure. I sneaked friends in as often as possible. I hoarded as many Disney trinkets as I could in order to make money on eBay.

Tell us about stealing.

Well, food's not so hard to get. Just below New Orleans Square is an employee cafeteria. I'd walk down a staircase behind the portrait stand, move nonchalantly through the swinging doors at the far end of the hallway, go into the kitchen, and stroll to the back right corner. Usually, the kitchen staff didn't care or didn't notice that I was there. There were tall carts of chocolate-chip cookies and croissants, and the room was poorly lit. I'd grab two handfuls and run up this secret staircase that would exit onstage.

Onstage?

That's Disneyspeak for back into the park—just like we're all cast members, the park is the stage. The door didn't open from the outside, and almost no one used it to get into the park. I could sit there eating for 20 minutes while my boss thought I was off doing something important.

And what about treasure?

Pirate treasure. I lost my employee-identification card three times and kept getting new ones for $10. I'd eventually find the old IDs and then use them to sneak my buddies in for free. Most employee entrances require that you swipe your card, but there's this one exit where the guard glances at your card and nods you through. Me and my friends sneaked down into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when it was closed during March and looted like pirates.

What did you do with the treasure?

Some of the little gems and metal tokens I snagged are worth a lot of money on the black market. Disney freaks will pay well for ride props.

What do you mean by "Disney trinkets"?

Any old piece of plastic with the Disney logo printed on it. The most popular souvenirs in New Orleans were the plastic bead necklaces that all employees were supposed to hand out to guests. One month, we got these beads with a plastic Disney-logo medallion hanging from them. One of my co-workers told me that he had seen them on eBay for $20 apiece. I saved about 15 of them but haven't tried to sell them yet. I'm going to wait a few decades—then they'll be worth their weight in gold.

 
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