While I like to shy away from the heavier posts here, there are often some things that alter how I live my life, and therefore how I blog. This week I left my job at Disneyland. This decision is one that I have thought about for a long time, and with my Guest Relations disaster, the decision became easier, because my intended career dreams could not be achieved. Some of you may be wondering why, and some of the reasons I am more than willing to share, especially since I love Disneyland.
Firstly, I want to say it was not the work itself that has prompted this. While I previously mentioned I simply worked in stores, I actually worked a specialized area of stores, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where I was a Fairy Godmother-in-Training, transforming children into princesses and knights. This role is extremely unique, involves a lot of Guest interaction, and is super magical, and I really, really enjoyed it. I loved telling stories, sharing knowledge of the Disneyland Resort, and I loved seeing the faces of children and parents light up when the magic mirror was revealed at the end of their transformations. I received a lot of gratitude from families, many saying “You’ve made our day” and that meant a lot to me.
Now, onto the reasons behind my departure. While having a career with the Walt Disney Company was part of the reason we made the move to California, the other part was the fact I was bored in Portland, and California offered a wide range of activity. I severely underestimated that amount of activity. I have never been bored since moving, as every time I turn around there is something to go see or do, and the list of things continues to grow, rather than shrink, which is great! In addition to the long list of places to visit, such as historical sites, filming locations, museums, national parks, and restaurants, there are constantly unique events going on. Take the Halloween season for example. Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios all offer Halloween events. There is also the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, ScareLA, the Anaheim Halloween Parade, and Stan Lee’s Comikaze took place Halloween weekend, Hocus Pocus played at the El Capitan in early October, and then Danny Elfman performed his parts of Nightmare Before Christmas live at the Hollywood Bowl, and I am so sad I missed out, as I adore Danny Elfman and Nightmare. Additionally, I really wanted to go with a macabre theme for October for the blog, by visiting local cemeteries, the LA Coroner’s office gift shop, and doing one of the Dearly Departed tours in LA. And when October 31 arrived, I had have done very, very little of this list, in addition to not making a costume for Halloween for the first time in five years. As I look to the new year there are already five, many multi-day, events, that I am already aware of, that I am planning on attending between the beginning of the year and April, some of which are annual events, others are unique, one-time offerings.
As I began missing out on events, both ones I planned on attending, or ones that cropped up at the last minute, I felt crushed at my inability to go. Going to work, while still fun and magical, felt suffocating, and I felt like I had very little control over my life. Part of this is my own fault, as I have had the luxury of either working for myself, or someone I knew very well, and taking time off was easy to arrange, for most of my adult life. I am not used to this situation. Furthermore, the Walt Disney Company is a very large company and does their scheduling based on seniority, and I was still the low man on the totem pole, resulting in being given evening and weekend shifts. The problem is, Patrick works a regular Monday through Friday, nine to five job. Sure, Patrick works from home, but he is contractually obligated to be available during regular work hours, and if he wants to be away for a significant period of time during those hours, that is considered taking time off. However, I am in the unique and rare position that is that I do not need to work for us to make ends meet. So, when I applied to work at Disneyland, it was because I wanted to, not because I needed a job. The job became an unnecessary hoop I have to jump through to do other things, often missing out. This situation limited our time to go out and explore, to attend events, and so on, which is pretty much what our hobbies are. Seriously, take me to a museum or filming location before a bar or club anytime.
I know what some of you are thinking, “Ask for time off, trade shifts, call out sick.” It’s really not that simple. Disney’s scheduling, including requests for time off, is a complex system that I won’t bore you with, but the truth is, often you wouldn’t know if you received time off until the schedule is released. The schedule is always changing as well. Rarely do people work the same exact days and shifts week in and week out. As for trading shifts, as I worked in a specialized area, the pool of people I had to trade from was very small, and not once did anyone trade with me when I asked if anyone was able to. Additionally, trades must be submitted and approved. And calling out has a range of consequences.
While the outcome of my time as a Cast Member is not what I thought it would be, I am so glad I went through this experience. I made so many great friends, and it was nothing short of amazing to make magic. My curiosity of working at Disneyland has been satisfied, and I am happy with that, no matter how brief the experience. Additionally, having been behind the scenes, I feel I can better appreciate and understand Cast Members when I am a Guest; for example, there is a lot of information that Cast Members do not have access to, or are informed of, so when they say they don’t know the answer, I am a little more understanding.
I still love Disneyland, and, yes, I will miss working there, but I can’t put into words the frantic need I have to visit and go do everything I want to do. I have witnessed events that happen yearly suddenly stop happening. I have seen filming locations demolished (for example, the iconic Los Angeles Sixth Street bridge is set to be demolished in January) and museums close. I do not want miss out on something forever over something I do not need to be doing.
What does this mean for the blog? Well, hopefully it means more blogging. With more time I can visit unique locations, learn more things, and then share them with you all. California is literally a playground, especially for the history and movie geek, and I am excited to be able to explore it more.