Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Return of Sorts

Lots of you guys already know this, and to quote a phrase my old boss used to say about past work experiences, "In a previous life...."
I worked at Walt Disney World.

I was there for about 4 years starting the summer before my senior year of high school.  Hired in to be a cast member for Magic Kingdom attractions/entertainment (which ended up being more of a food service with a show, but I'll get to that later) at The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Review & Medicine Show.
It's closed now - probably being used as storage or a character meet & greet space (just like the Animation Studio at "Hollywood Studios" is a cold empty husk of the magic it once held).
While it was open, we served cold sammiches and chips and ice cream and sodas while a stage show with magicians, singing cowboys, and can-can girls performed.
It was an entertaining food service attraction.
We dared to blur the line between departments.
Because of this, I was able to cross-train at a few other close by attractions like Haunted Mansion, which was the best because it was the only place you could give your face a rest from all that smiling and being nice to people.
(...hello, Jesse. consider this a virtual hug.)
(awkward pic pose)

2 years later, I moved over to Typhoon Lagoon to be a lifeguard.  But not one of those cool lifeguards like those that got to dive the shark reef for most of the day or like the guys standing above the wave pool.  I was a shallow water guard.  Which meant watching people float down a lazyass river, telling kids not to climb rocks, ster-bac bluing the snorkel gear, and tube stacking.
Before we were even allowed to stand poolside with our whistles, there was, of course, a certification class where were taught CPR and other life-saving techniques in the deep end of a pool at a YMCA.  An older gentlemen in our class ended up having a heart attack in the pool during a session and we had to do a real life emergency rescue....

Anyway, during this lifeguarding phase, I was also taking classes over at Valencia 3 days a week and working 12-14hr days. Sometimes picking up event shifts that had me clocked in from 6a.m. to 3 or 4a.m.
Make no mistake, lifeguards party just as hard as they work and I had some of the best drunken nights of my life that I probably shouldn't remember.
(...Neil?? I think you're the only one from back then who may or may not read this. HI!! ...also, luckily for us, I can't find any pictures at the moment.)

The park would close for two months in the Florida "winter" for renovations & maintenance and would send its cast members to the other parks and resorts on property. I was sent into retail at a gift shop at the then-named Disney Institute (now called Saratoga Springs) which was the most boring gig but gave me an awesome opportunity to do a claymation short film as a part of the resort's "area awareness" training.
The resort used to run 2hr workshops that people could take in gardening, animation & claymation, and a few random other things....photography was in there, I think.  Apparently, people don't want to learn on vacation because it doesn't appear they do that stuff anymore.
That day in the claymation shop, we were broken off into 4 groups of 3 or 4 and my group was inspired by Bambi Meets Godzilla (below) so we did a similar little ditty but instead it was a pink poodle floating down a river on a raft and it gets eaten by a purple tentacled monster from below.
It took us 2hrs to complete a 12 second clip.  Will do some digging to see if it's hidden in a box in a closet somewhere.


When Typhoon reopened, I went back to lifeguarding before itching to get back to the entertainment side of things and auditioned to be in....no...wait....to be A Friend Of the Disney Characters and ended up being great friends with Rafiki, Pluto, & Eeyore over at Camp Minnie Mickey (recently closed) at the Animal Kingdom (...hello, Bambi, Michelle, Jen, & whoever else may be lurking....HUGS!!) just after its Grand Opening.
(Had some pretty fuckin' awesome drunken nights while I was here, too.  *daydreamy sigh*)
(bleh....some not so awesome, too)

And then I tried to swing into being a Puppeteer for the Lion King Show (recently closed) over at Disney's Animal Kingdom but got caught up in a stupid union thing that fucked over my chance. Pissed off (mostly with myself), I picked up odd shifts here and there, becoming friends with Brer Fox, Mr. Smee, and Wendell the Country Bear over at other parks & resorts and then left to become a photographer at Animal Kingdom (3rd party), which was still kinda fun because then I was taking pictures of all my friends who were Friends of Disney Characters, but really kinda sucked because we were doing the same framing, seeing the same character poses...for hours, for days, for months.  And with a shitty manager.
I got burnt out.  Fast.

Completely disenchanted & struggling, I left theme parks/entertainment/hospitality all together to go swimming in the tech pool for about 14 years.

And, so here we are.  15 years later and I've returned to entertainment.
In the form of Mad Cow Theatre.
Which, unbeknownst to most of you, has been a goal of mine for the past year+ and is on my list of things to accomplish for 2014.
I seriously couldn't be happier or more excited at present and will share more details next week!!

ARGH - CLIFFHANGER!!
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