Whoever came up with the phrase “Mickey Mouse Operation” obviously had never been to Disneyland. Any operation that can keep attractions like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with it’s millions of moving parts, and its video, audio and mechanical components, running smoothly 16 hours a day with only the rare break down, is anything but “Mickey Mouse”; and that’s just one ride, in one park, in one “land”. There are dozens of them, all doing the same thing, all over the parks, all day, every day.
They employ an army of shepherds who ride herd every day over the millions of families with language barriers, disabilities, screaming kids and their parents, sucked-dry-of-the-will-to-live by the constant sensory assaults from music, motion, and adrenaline; all the while being just so nice you want to hit them. It boggles the mind the number of different uniforms, I-9’s, W-4’s, timecards, and employee parking spaces that are needed to keep this small army marching into battle every day. But on our recent trip to the Disney Homeworld in Anaheim, I noticed one battalion of troops was missing.
Sometime in the recent past, when exactly I don’t know, Disneyland and its sister parks did away with the Sweep-It-Up-Guys. It used to be a favorite entertainment during past visits to throw stuff on the ground and see how long it would take for the guys with the brooms and dust-pans-on-a-stick to get there and whisk it away. It was as if they were all in constant radio communications with each other: “Cigarette butt in Sector 7, Grid B, Pirates of the Caribbean! Swarm! Swarm! Swarm!” I think Disney raised the unemployment rate in California at least a couple of percentage points just by eliminating the Sweep-It-Up-Guys. There used to be a small army of them, but on this four-day visit I saw exactly two. Now that there’s no smoking in Disneyland and its sister parks, the Sweep-It-Up-Guys have been replaced by trashcans. Someone correctly figured out that trashcans were cheaper, didn’t need uniforms, timecards, W-4’s, or health insurance, and they always showed up for work. There is, and this is no exaggeration, a trashcan every 20 yards. Someone also figured out that if you eliminate the cigarette butts (and thank God, the gum) there is really nothing small enough for people to just drop on the ground, unnoticed. You can’t just nonchalantly drop your 16 oz. plastic Sprite bottle and keep walking; and if you do keep walking, look! There’s another trashcan, right there; and now don’t you feel just awful you didn’t use it?
We smokers in Disneyland are now herded into four small Smoking Areas located in different parts of the park. One of the Disney “areas” is in Frontierland, right next to the dock for the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island; and I swear I was just waiting for the guide with the loudspeaker on the raft to point out the self-destructive, endangered species in the pen to your left, soon to disappear forever from the earth. “Smoking areas” are probably the best motivation to quit smoking ever devised. Put us all in a glass room at the airport or, in the case of the smoking areas at Disneyland, a fenced-in corral, and put us on exhibit like the freaks we are. When you cluster us all together in these little mini-concentration camps, invariably the talk between smoking strangers turns to cheery, buzz-kill topics like when we are all going to quit, our friends and relatives who have quit (or who have lung cancer); bitching about all the places you used to be able to smoke but can’t anymore, and so on. And at Disneyland people bring their KIDS into this Holiest of Holies!! This is supposed to be a sanctuary; a fallout shelter from the singing and screaming and the sugar/adrenaline crazed masses; but now I can’t wait to get out of here and back to the comparative sanity of the 45 minute line for “It’s a Small World”.