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Cast Member Corner: The Tale of Eeyore's Tail

Cast Member Corner: The Tale of Eeyore's Tail

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Hey, gang!

As promised, JimHillMedia.com is starting up a new section at the site: Cast Member Corners. Which will be the part of JHM that will be specifically set aside for the people who work at the Disney theme parks. This will be where these hard-working folks can gather to gripe or tell funny stories. Whatever they'd like t share with the JimHillMedia.com audience.

This time around, we've got a rather sweet story out of Disneyland Paris. Which talks about how one former cast members there went the extra mile to try and make one little British gorl happy. It's quite a tail ... er ... tale.

Here's hoping you enjoy it!


 

Dear Jim,

Thank you for last week's story about that little girl on "Alien Encounter". Those words by that former cast member could have been pretty much my own. I had similar experiences during in the summer of 2002, while I was working with the "Guest Flow Team" (AKA crowd control) at Disneyland Paris.

Sure, there were days that were nothing but dreadful. Like standing in the hot sun with no shade doing parade control. Or doing the same standing in the pouring rain. Or those nightly attempts during the "Main Street Electrical Parade" to keep an alley for the ambulance open (in case of an emergency). Which is certainly no fun.

Hundreds of tired people, (each of them) trying to get a good look at the parade and you constantly have to push them back. It was also difficult to keep the wheel-chair viewing area on Central Plaza (DLP's hub) open during these parades. Or having to deal with annoyed British guests (Jim, these people can be so nice. But -- once they get agitated -- run! For the love of God! Run to the nearest door to backstage and hide!)

But I don't want to imply that my job was any harder than anyone else's at the park. There were those poor folks having to work the Fantasyland rides. Or the cast members that had to work at the Studio Catering Co. trailers during the very hot summer with no a/c and the pizza oven running all day. And I'd really rather do anything than work in one of the parks' HUGE fast food restaurants like "En Coulisse" or "Cafe Hyperion".

Compared to what those poor people go through ... I could not have been any happier with my job. After all, we enjoyed amazing liberties. We were not landlocked. Which meant we were free to roam through all of the Magic Kingdom. And -- each day -- we were allowed to do something else.

For example: One day, you'd do crowd control over at "Tarzan" (an amazing show which I was allowed to watch frequently thanks to my job). The next day, you'd just stroll through the park, offering help and assistance to the guests you'd encounter. Typically, the questions you'd get would be: "Where are the restrooms?" "Are there fireworks tonight?" "How do we get to 'Indiana Jones'?" Though -- every so often -- you'd get an oddball question. Like the time that nice German couple stopped me while I was standing at the hub and asked where the Castle was...

All in all, it was a wonderful job. And during most of the summer, my work day actually ended with me being able to watch "Tinkerbell's Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks explode in the night sky above Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant...

But the thing that I really, really loved about my job were these little "Disney Magic" moments. Like the day when I was working at the Castle Stage, doing crowd control for the "Winnie the Pooh and Friends, too!" show. Before the show, we were supposed to recruit a child, 6 -- 10 years old, who'd be willing to come up on stage and help Eeyore find his tail. It was the last show for the day and it was up to me to find just the right kid for the job, when this British family came to me.

The father asks me where they could find Winnie the Pooh. So that their daughter -- who could not have been any older than 4 -- could get a chance to give that "silly old bear" a hug. Well, as you might have guessed, there was only ONE Winnie the Pooh in the park that day. And he was scheduled to do the show in the afternoon.

So I tried explaining to them that Winnie the Pooh wouldn't be coming out to do any more autographs or photos that afternoon. But if the family would just come back tomorrow morning ...

The only problem was that this family was only going to be in the park for that day. Of course, once the father broke the news to his daughter, she was heart broken. With these huge tears running down her face.

Now you have to understand that -- if you're a Disneyland Paris cast member and you've made a child cry -- you really feel awful. Like you're not doing your job well at all. That's why I was so grateful to have a friend of mine come by at this very moment.

The two of us began to discuss the situation. (I should point out here that the parents understood what was happening here and were very sympathetic. But that didn't make us feel any less bad for being unable to get their little girl together with Winnie the Pooh during that family's visit to the park.) That's when we came up with the idea of recruiting this little girl to help Eeyore find his tail during the upcoming show.

Now please understand that DLP's rules say that we're not supposed to recruit any kids who are younger than six to make guest appearances in the show. Out of concern that they might get frightened once they get up on stage. But my colleague and I thought that -- in this particular case -- we might be able to make an exception.

So we ran to get the director of that day's "Winnie the Pooh and Friends, too!" show. And the clock was ticking. Because if we didn't get to talk to the director NOW and she had said no, there was barely any time left to recruit another kid.

Luckily, the director agreed. And so I told the little girl that she wouldn't see Pooh, but -- if she wanted to -- she could help Eeyore. I've never seen such a happy face ...

That is until her big moment in the show arrived. Eeyore walked out on stage, looking for his tail. I went to this little girl, gave her the tail and then walked with her towards the stage while Christopher Robin kept asking the audience for help. Usually the children that we recruit for the show just wave the tail above their heads.

But this little girl ... She started screaming "Here it is! Here it is!" with such force, that her voice just filled the whole theatre. And it was that very moment when it felt like my heart had just melted away. To see her so happily going up on stage, meeting Christopher Robin, Piglet, Kanga and Roo and -- of course -- Eeyore ... I just knew that I loved my job. That all of the bad things that can happen when you work with thousands of people each day, just got washed away with this great big smile on that little girl's face.

And that's what Disney is about (at least in my book): those little moments when you can actually touch people's lives. Not in a big way, mind you. But still in a way that you're sure that they will remember. I know that I will...

So thanks, Jim ... For offering cast members, past and present, a place where they express their feelings about jobs that can often quite hard, but still can be rather magical.

T.S.

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