A Skipper Story

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Not everyone can say that they have been a skipper, a conductor, and an archeologist all at once. But that is exactly what my role was as a former cast member at the Disneyland Resort. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that only a few lucky souls have: working for the mouse at Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom.

 

"The butterflies can grow with a wingspan between 12 inches and a whopping one foot!"

“The butterflies can grow with a wingspan between 12 inches and a whopping one foot!”

For as long as I can remember, I have been enamored by the characters, attractions, songs, stories, shows, and more that have found a home at the park. Growing up in Southern California, I had the ability to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park on a regular basis for my entire childhood. Those frequent trips were a bright ray of sunshine in my world, and have since turned into cherished memories that I still think about to this day.

I began working at Disneyland Park while attending college in Orange County and was hired in the summer of 2012. In what was likely one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life, I soon learned that my first attraction assignment would be on The World Famous Jungle Cruise.

Yes, I would soon be telling the classic corny (yet beloved) jokes.
Yes, I would soon have to talk in front of hundreds of people on a daily basis.
And yes, I was terrified.

Luckily, the fear didn’t last too long, and I soon became fully aware of the incredible legacy and heritage that I was to become a part of.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind, and training began quickly after I received my assignment. Before I knew it, I was making “deadheads” (trips without guests) around the rivers of the world and through the jungle with my two trainers. In addition to working at the helm of the boat, I was also taught dock loading/unloading procedures, gun safety (yes, they are real; hippos are incredibly dangerous creatures!), as well as how to start shows at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

On one particular afternoon during training, I was making one of many deadhead trips around the river without guests. (Learning how to spiel and drive is tougher than it looks!) We reached the load position at the dock, when all of a sudden, my two trainers smiled at each other. They took a seat on the benches of the boat as guests began filing on board. My stomach dropped. I started sweating. What if I forgot my spiel? What if no one laughed? What if my boat sunk?

To my surprise, everything turned out fine, and later that week I was already making solo trips with park guests around the river. Over the next several months, I was given assignments on Indiana Jones Adventure and the Disneyland Railroad; the latter of which I called home for my final few months at the resort.

I would not trade the experiences that I had and the people that I met while working at the resort for anything. It was one of the best opportunities that I’ve ever had, and paved the way to my current role with the Disney Insider Blog. While I am no longer with the resort, I am proud to have created magic for so many guests, and work first-hand on two attractions that Walt Disney was personally involved with.

Jungle_Cruise_Skipper_C

 

As we say in the jungle: Now get out. I’m sorry, that was rude. Please, get out.

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