From the Mouth of the Mouse

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The folks who know the most about Disney aren't always the Imagineers but rather the 'regular' people who manage the lines, serve the food, clean up the trash. Jeff Heimbuch has interviewed dozens of them. Their fascinating stories present Disney from new perspectives: you'll learn what it's like to work for the Mouse on the front-lines. And, of course, you'll hear from the Imagineers, too. So buckle up! What comes From the Mouth of the Mouse may surprise you...

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FROM: From the Mouth of the Mouse Published Wednesdays

Interview: Lynn, Disney Custodial

Code V! Code V! Trust me, you really don't want to know. But if you read Jeff Heimbuch's interview with Lynn, who worked many years in Disneyland Custodial, you're going to find out, and I just hope you're not eating breakfast when you do.

As you know by now from my previous columns, there are hundreds of Cast Members who love to tell their stories. And we, as Guests and fans of the Park, love to listen to them. But every once in awhile, we come across a Cast Member who loves to talk about their experiences so much that just one interview with them isn't nearly enough!

In today's From the Mouth of the Mouse, we talk to Lynn, who recently started a Podcast on her experiences in the Park. Though she just started recording it, they are already up to 17 episodes, each one packed with more behind-the-scenes stories than the last. Lynn was kind enough to share some of her stories with us.

Where did you work?

LYNN: I worked at Disneyland Park from summer 1998 to summer 2007 in Custodial. Before that, I worked at the Plaza Inn & Plaza Pavilion from 1991 to 1993.

What did you do at the Plaza Inn?

LYNN: I was a busser.

What exactly does a busser do? The same thing as they do in most restaurants?

LYNN: We collect dirty dishes from the tables and take them back to the dishwasher. When I worked there, we put the dirty dishes in a tub that would sit on a stand. When we were finished with a table, we would then fold up the stand and put the tub on our shoulder. The tubs got very heavy at times, and if we filled it up too much, we got in trouble. We would also sweep the area around the restaurant.

There seems to be a pretty large gap between the first time you worked at Disneyland and the second. Do you mind if I ask why you left the first time?

LYNN: I was a seasonal Cast Member and wasn't getting enough hours.

Was it common for seasonal folks not to get enough hours during that time?

LYNN: Well, as a seasonal Cast Member, you would get lots of hours during Christmas, Thanksgiving, other holidays, the summer, and on weekends. During other times, you would rarely get hours, so it just wasn't enough to sustain me.

What made you want to go back in 1998?

LYNN: I was in a Christian rock band and I had quit my previous job so I could go on a tour. When I came back, I needed a job, and thought about Disneyland again!

Did you have a specific area that you worked in during your custodial years, or were you all over?

LYNN: I was all over. I was a Custodial Lead for 8 of my 9 years with Custodial.

What did your job consist of as a Custodial Lead?

LYNN: Well, you were in charge of a specific area for the day, pretty much. For instance, Main Street, U.S.A. Within that area, there were maybe 3 or 4 sweeping areas. We would make sure the Cast Members were doing their job. We would help alongside them, too. We would also make the schedule for the day, assigning breaks and lunches, and we would respond to calls from Custodial Central.
Some of the common calls would be a liquid spill at an attraction, shop, or wherever. We would also get calls for code V's. A code V means vomit. Those would occur anywhere, but mainly in attractions that are more high speed. There is so much more to a custodial lead, but that's the basics.

Did you work overnight, or during the days?

LYNN: During the days. Our shifts would be anywhere from 5:30 AM and ending at 1:30 AM at the latest.

Did you have a place you enjoyed working at most?

LYNN: Yes, I really enjoyed the west side of the park, New Orleans and Adventure/Frontierland.

What about those places did you like the best?

LYNN: I liked the atmosphere in those areas. The trees were a plus in the summer, because of the shade. I also enjoyed working nights and doing the Fantasmic show cleanups. Those show cleanups are pretty intense. We would clean up the viewing area in front of Rivers of America after the show in about 20 minutes flat!

What lands did you like the least, and why?

LYNN: I personally didn't like the Small World area. That consisted of the Matterhorn and up to the Small World attraction. I didn't mind the attractions, but the parade route in front of Small World became a food court at times, with tons of outdoor vending carts selling food and drinks. It left a mess for us to clean up every day. I was also scheduled in Small World a lot, so I think I got tired of it.

As Custodians, you guys are pretty much the unsung heroes of the park. You keep it clean all the time. How do you feel about that?

LYNN: I took great pride in keeping the park clean, and I think most custodians did as well.

Would you like to share any special memories or magical moments that you created?

LYNN: I do remember helping lost children a lot. The children are so scared, and their parents are. too. I had one incident where I calmed down a parent because they were so worried, then after they were reunited with their child, they came and found me to personally thank me for helping calm them down. It was very sweet of them.

Given the chance, would you go back again?

LYNN: Yes, I would. I left this last time in 2007 because my family and I decided to move to Utah. I had such a great experience at Disney, and miss it a lot. Of course, it is like any job where you get frustrated with situations, but I can truly say that it was a wonderful place to work. You meet so many neat people, both Guests and other Cast Members.
I have a greater appreciation for Disneyland now and what it means to so many people. I really tried to help keep the place clean and keep the mission going. I believe Disneyland is a place where you can forget about your problems and enjoy yourself. I was glad I was able to be a part of making magic for others to enjoy.

Tell me a little bit about The Sweep Spot, your podcast.

LYNN: The Sweep Spot is myself and another Cast Member I worked with at Disneyland. We discuss Disneyland attractions, talk about the history of them, and some of our memories with these attractions. We also do fun stuff like give tips and trip reports. My plan is to eventually have other former Cast Members on our show from other departments to share their stories as well. So far we have had a few on and hope to have more soon.
The Sweep Spot podcast is growing fast and I enjoy doing it. It is fun to relive these stories and talk about one of my favorite places - Disneyland.

Thank you, Lynn, for sharing! And everyone else, make sure you check out Lynn's podcast, the wonderfully named Sweep Spot.

If you haven't done so already, please don't forget to subscribe to our podcast! We have lots more interviews coming your way, and you don't want to miss them.

If you are (or know) a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and be featured here on Disney Dispatch, email me at jeff@bamferproductions.com. I'd love to hear from you!