Friday, March 14, 2014

The Reality Land of Disneyland on OCTA Route 43 Land

ANAHEIM - Walking about any day and time in the Disneyland Resort you will see shining, happy "cast members," as Disneyland employees are called in Disney-speak. Over the years more that a few people have wondered and mused if these cast members are even human with their super smiling faces and always over-the-top cheerful attitude.

There is one place you can find the answer if Disneyland employees are actually human. To see behind the Mickey Mouse veneer of these overly happy cast members it is highly suggested you ride Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) bus route 43.

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OCTA bus route 43 that carries dozens upon dozens Disneyland cast members as seen at the Fullerton Transportation Center. No copyright infringement intended. 

Stepping onto the accordion looking bus you will notice the "Disney magic" quickly disappear, and you see a different look on the cast member faces, all while wearing their "costumes." You will see the magic of wore out, but loving mothers trying to make ends meet on a Mickey Mouse wage. You will see the college student who was promised an exciting, fantastic job, only to wonder what they are doing working in the parking lot.

Almost anytime of the day or night on the bus going all over Harbor Boulevard you will see Disneyland "cast members" that are not quite what is portrayed in Disney video and print promos of super-duper happy cast members. Rather, just an eerie feeling falls on the badly florescent lit OCTA bus. A lot of cast members stare out of the bus window as if wondering what lays beyond Walt's gate. As the cast members board the bus in their various "costumes" each cast member gives each other a blank dismal nod.

At Harbor Blvd. and Broadway in Anaheim a large group of young cast members depart the bus. This is not unusual as just down the street at Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. are the dorms for Disney's College Program.

If you want to be apart of Disney's College Program and have wanted to work at Disneyland, but live well outside the area, like maybe out of state, the mouse provides housing. The housing is like a dorm with multiple roommates, and it comes out of the cast member's magical paycheck. The jobs most these Disney College Program cast members hold are what the regular cast members hold, like ride operator, parking lot attendant, working in the kitchen, running the cash register and selling the Mickey Mouse hats. Riding on OCTA route 43 you see the program members who have looks of confusion on their face with a hint of depression.

Late night riding on OCTA route 43 you see the other cast members that are typically hidden from the public. These are not the ride operators or those working the shops on Main Street, U.S.A., but rather these are the people who keep the grass green, the Mickey Mouse flower garden that greet the visitors in front of the train station fresh and pretty, and the people who keep the dishes clean while the sun is down. These are the people who replace the twinkling lights all over the park during the overnight hours, replace all the grass, flowers and plants that might slightly give any hint that they may be changing colors; these are the people prepping food and washing dishes for tomorrow's "show." It is these cast members who ride the bus when the sun is down, who work all night and take the bus back home when the sun is rising.

Route 43 on the OCTA bus exposes a different side of Disneyland. Riding this bus amid the Disneyland workers exposes something the mouse tries to hide, a very human side to the operation. These are people maybe working one job at Disneyland and going home just to get ready to work at another job. These are people who have a family to support. Perhaps they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and having to use what limited energy they have to put on that smile and "show" for those at Disneyland.

If it seems like there is a lot of frustration and not-so-Disney like energy suddenly being released on the bus there is a reason for that.

Some of these cast members know if they let a moment of their reality slip in and show it on their face they could get in trouble. For Disneyland has people on their payroll who go undercover as guests to observed and interact with the cast members. Should there be anything these undercover agents do not like or simply disapprove of these agents report it to management. Then, making what is already a stressful day dealing with the public even more stressful, one of Disneyland's many managers now needs to "talk to you," and as a result there is now a formal reprimand on the cast member's record.

Maybe you see the stressed out faces of a cast member on route 43, because they had to stay home a few extra minutes to take care of an ill child. Now the person is running a few minutes late and "points" are going to be added to this cast member's record. "Points" is Disneyland's puerile system to punish those that are late to work, or call in and not able to make it to work. Get too many points and you are fired. Yes, sometimes people are late due to bad time management and bad decisions, but other times people have legitimate reasons for being late, like having to take their child to the doctor, or not able to find a sitter.

Mine you Disneyland has a clock in-clock out system, and if you are just one minute late you will now have "points" on your record. If you are just a minute or two late you cannot just clock in, but rather the cast member has to go through Disneyland's Kafkaesque management system to get it reported and cleared.

These are some of the stories the faces and the overheard telephone conversations tell, all aboard OCTA bus route 43.

Welcome to reality-land where the working class and deceived college students riding the bus up and down Harbor Blvd. keep the billion-dollar factory in Anaheim running and the shareholders in Burbank and New York happy.

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