Ratting Out the Mouse
Illustration by Bob AulThe Disney Resort is teeming with rats, according to current and former Disneyland employees reacting to media reports of rodent problems inside the Goofy's Kitchen restaurant at the Disneyland Hotel.
Longtime complaints by Goofy's Kitchen workers about rats, rat feces and mold at the cafeteria-style restaurant were recently chronicled in the Weekly ("'Rats and Rat Shit Everywhere,'" Sept. 13; "Goofy Oversight," Sept. 27). Disney Resort officials reacted to the stories by saying there's no evidence of such problems within their sprawling entertainment district.
Documents obtained by the Weekly from the Orange County Health Care Agency report that inspectors found no evidence of rodent infestation inside Goofy's Kitchen during recent inspections, but did find evidence of rats elsewhere in the Disneyland Hotel.
Now, new anecdotal evidence from Disneyland workers suggests that the rat problem is not limited to the hotel and its restaurant, but plagues the entire resort.
"One thing is for certain: it's nothing new for Disney to have a mouse in the house, and I don't mean Mickey," claimed former Disneyland employee Kevin Yee.
Days after the Weekly's first Goofy's Kitchen story was published, Yee posted his own follow-up article on www.mouseplanet. com, an unofficial Disneyland website for resort employees, fans and critics alike. Yee's "Mouse in the House" asserted that the entire resort is infested with rats.
"During my tenure in New Orleans Square in the 1980s and 1990s, I came across numerous rodents, usually after closing," he claimed. "As mentioned in the [Weekly] article, foot-long rats do indeed exist at the Happiest Place on Earth. I've seen one myself scamper across the skylight of the French Market ceiling—in full view of the guests below sliding their trays piled full of spaghetti and cheesecake. The only difference is that the rat I saw was no less than 20 inches long.
"The problem continues to this day," Yee claimed. "Sources familiar with the situation tell of a rat dropping on the back of the neck of a female server in the secret, members-only restaurant Club 33 a few months ago. It just fell from the rafters above and landed—plop!—onto her neck before scampering away."
E-mails from anonymous Disneyland employees who had their own rat tales have flooded the website for the past three weeks. One message came from a former Disney engineer who said he had personally treated Goofy's Kitchen to eliminate mold and rats. He theorized that the rat population inside the Disneyland Hotel increased after renovation work on nearby low-income apartment buildings.
"Basically, the rodents fled to safer ground," he asserted.
A current cast member on Disneyland's Jungle Cruise cited a rat-control remedy that was first described by David Koenig in his 1994 book Mouse Tales. The worker said the resort's rat problem started three decades ago when the snack bar on Tom Sawyer's Island opened for business. "After a while, park management tried getting rid of the rats by placing cyanide-laced hot dogs around the island," he claimed. "This was quickly stopped because of the fear that children would find these hot dog pieces and put them in their mouths. So feral cats were introduced as a new solution."
He continued: "Also during night excursions, many a skipper has shined a spotlight into the hippo pool or baboon rock only to discover: a) a rat happily swimming in the water; or, b) a rat not so happily bobbing motionless in the water. In our back break area next to the kitchen for the Main Street restaurants, the rafters at night resonate with the sounds of feet (scurry, scurry). I look up and see not one but two big rats above my head."
Luis Sanchez, vice president of Local 681 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, which represents Goofy's Kitchen workers, told the Weekly that because of our coverage, employees have been warned by management not to talk to any reporters. "The managers had meetings in every hotel and said if reporters talk to you, tell them to call this number. . . . If someone asks if there are rats, say no."
That would be a lie, according to Sanchez.
"There are rats in there," he confirmed. "But nobody wants to talk."
In a statement faxed to the Weekly, Disney spokesperson Chela Castano said the Disneyland Resort follows stringent state guidelines regarding pest-control management.
"Our pest-control measures are regulated, and we are in compliance with all state laws," she wrote. "In addition, we must submit a monthly report to the Orange County Agricultural Commission office to ensure that we are working within the guidelines set forth by the state. Our pest-control standards are well above the industry standards, and we pride ourselves on providing a clean, healthy and safe environment for both our guests and cast members."
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