Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Special Guest Post!

 Here's something a little different! GDB friend Mark Raymond sent me a fun account of his attempt to get a job as an Imagineer at Disneyland, back around 1988. In fact, he sent it long ago, and I either didn't see it initially, or I forgot it (which seems unlikely to me). Anyway, I asked Mark if it would still be OK to share his story, and he graciously said yes in spite of my extreme lameness. In a separate email, he'd sent me a bunch of scans of snapshots that he'd taken in 1977; obviously they are not related to the text in any way, but it felt like this would be a good time to share some of them (the blue text is provided by Mark). So, sit back and relax!

The Disney Job.

To start, I was born in Whittier in 1961.  Family photos show me at Disneyland in 1965 but I don't remember it.  My memories, of anything back then, is in bits and pieces.  The first visit I recall with clarity is 1968, right after the opening of the New Tomorrowland and the POTC.   As a fan, I was hooked.  I read everything I could find on the park, Walt Disney, etc.  I knew I wanted to be an Imagineer.

The Main Entrance taken from the Monorail. Mickey was feeling a little colorless that day.

In the days before the internet, when we still sent smoke signals, we didn't know when our favorite attraction was being removed until we saw these signs.  The Mine Train was one of my favorites and this sign greeted me.  Not a good omen for my day.

I'm feeling like I need a tuna sandwich and a Root Beer.

Back then, in a time before APs, we went to the park at least twice a year.  I always enjoyed myself but my mind always wanted to know how things worked.  I would look backwards to see the secret actuators, lights, or the backside of a prop.  In the early 70's I took up photography.  My parents would shrug their shoulders at the amount of gear I took to the park.  And yes, I was probably the guy shooting flash photography on rides because I wanted to see what was hidden in the shadows.  I also took tons of natural light photos; if YouTube had existed back then I would have been all over it.

Ephalumps and Woozles.  Oops, wrong ride.

The Baboon family in their original location near the African Veldt.  There's momma Jean and baby Fred.

Dad is trying to decide if he likes light meat or dark meat.  Yes, they are in there.

In 1979 I graduated from Sierra HS and made a beeline to Disneyland and applied for work.  I didn't get a job so I went to my second passion, the USAF.  I enlisted in 1980 and left California.  My parents still lived in Whittier so I would come back on holidays.  If someone wanted to go with me I headed to Disneyland and just enjoyed a day out.

These Matterhorn shot are pretty dark but they were taken with a simple camera.  The exposed scaffolding always seemed a bit sketchy.  I hope they beefed it up when Harold was added or he'll fall straight to the bottom.

I feel sorry for this family, they zip through the mountain only to be blinded by a flash cube.

I like this seating arrangement so much better than what we have today.  Riding with your girlfriend was so much fun.

In 1988 I wanted to do something different.  The USAF had trained me as an electrician and I loved the job, but I missed being around family.  So, prior to reenlisting, I took all of my leave and headed home for an extended leave.  I pieced together a resume and headed to Disneyland and Knott's.  At Disneyland I filled out an application, attached my resume, and handed them to the person at the counter.  She told me they weren't hiring at that moment but my application would be reviewed.  As I turned to leave she was scanning my resume and stopped me, she said she thought I was applying for general employment.  She disappeared with my resume then returned with another man who directed me to a small break room.  I wish I could remember his name but we talked for about an hour, he was asking very pointed technical questions so I knew I was being interviewed.  In the end he told me that I would receive a card in about four weeks, regardless of hiring status.

Top of the lift hill took you outside and to a great view of Main Street.  A Skyway car passes overhead and notice the brilliantly disguised speaker in the pillar on the right.

A nice view of the pinkish Matterhorn with a Skyway car passing through.

Monorail Red viewed from the Kodak Photo Spot.  How many people have a picture like this?

I waited.  Six weeks later, no card.  I called Disneyland but they said I would just have to wait.  Running out of leave, I returned to the USAF and reenlisted. Two weeks after that, my dad called me and said a card had arrived, I WAS HIRED.  I can't remember the exact wording but it was for Technical Services.  I went to the AF Retentions office but they would not release my reenlistment.  DAMN!  I called the number on the card and talked to the guy that interviewed me.  I told him my situation and that I was sorry for wasting his time.  He told me that the cards had been delayed when they were filed instead of mailed.  So, I don't know where I would have been working but it was technical.   I was angry for a bit but I got over it.  I ended up staying in the Air Force for 20 years, I met my wife, and now live in San Antonio, TX.  

Skyway over the Monorail Station.  No Peoplemovers today, Space Mountain construction shut them down.

My second time riding in the front and in the bubble.  So much fun until we hit a truck.  Yes we did.  

One of the driver's control panels in the Monorail bubble.  We are sitting only a few feet from the Hotel Monorail Station but not close enough to get off.  A delivery truck had entered the front parking lot of the hotel instead of the delivery entrance.  He had wedged himself under the flashing that is mounted under the Monorail beamway.  As we entered the station, the monorail hit the raised flashing which damaged the monorail.  We sat there for about 40 minutes until the tug came to pull the monorail into the station.  The wreck damaged some fiberglass on the monorail as well as its electric pickup so we weren't going anywhere.  We got a free tram ride back to the main gate.

I still love Disneyland and I would like to come back but I don't have family in California any more.  We're saving up for a big trip.  For now, I get my Disneyland fix on GDB, Micechat, and on Youtube.  There are some really good Tubers out there and I've even uploaded a handful of videos from a trip in 1992.  On a sad note, all of my pictures and 8mm film from the 70s was lost during a military move when one of the boxes disappeared.  I still have a few pix that weren't in the box but over 300 Kodachromes are gone.  I would share them all if I could get them back.

Space Mountain still under construction.  It opened only a few months later.  This is the reason the Peoplemover was closed, maybe they didn't want the riders to see any Disney secrets.

Another construction photo, notice there isn't a construction wall in the way?  I guess they are putting some finishing touches on the Speedramp. 

Many, MANY thanks to Mark Raymond for sharing this story! I'm sure he wonders "what might have been", had the timing been just a little different. But it sounds like he had (and has) a nice life in San Antonio with his wife, so it all worked out. It kills me that all of Mark's photos and films vanished, ouch. By the way, thank you for your service, Mark. I hope you all enjoyed today's post.


K. Martinez said...

WOW!!! This is an absolutely wonderful post today. Not only are the pics wonderful (especially the pre-1978 Matterhorn interiors), but for Mark Raymond's story.

Mark, reading your story, I was really rooting for you getting the job at Disney and soon discovered that you re-enlisted in the USAF only to find out your application was accepted after you committed to a re-enlistment. Bummer! That must've been a hard one to take at the time. Still it sounds like you made out fine and did well with your life. I haven't been to San Antonio since the late 1970's, but I really enjoyed my short visit there way back in the day. Thanks for sharing your story with us. It captivated and the pics are most unusual and again the especially the Matterhorn interior shots.

Thank you too, Major. This is definitely an extra-special post today.

Nanook said...

Yes - thank YOU Mark for sharing these images with us. We can see by 1977, the Chicken of the Sea pirate ship had 'changed hands' to the Captain Hook's Pirate Ship Restaurant.

The shot of Monorail Blue in the Tomorrowland station is a keeper.

Thanks again, for sharing.

"Lou and Sue" said...


Like Ken just said, "WOW!" What a wonderful surprise post! (Is this a special holiday or something, Major??)

Loved reading your life story and really enjoyed all your pictures! I loved them all, but those Matterhorn pictures get top prize.

With all your visits to Disneyland, Mark, I'm looking forward to lots of stories from you in the future - THANK YOU for sharing!

And thank you, too, Major!


Thanks Mark & Major for sharing these - these is one of my favorite periods of a Disneyland . Interesting story about the truck and the Monorail . I had a similar experience in 1991 on the Monorail . We were waiting to leave the Disneyland Hotel and also sitting in the front car - right where the beam turns away from the station and crosses the hotel parking lot a motor home got stuck under the drip guard of the beam . It was either a storage container or part of the air conditioning to the motor home . The Monorail driver wasn’t in the cab when the motor home first got stuck .... when he returned my group and two other passengers pointed out the situation . He got on the radio and notified security or some department from within the Monorail . Then the motor home squeezed its self out and pieces of Fiberglass hung down and the motor home took off. But after awhile they gave the Monorail clearance to depart .

So a day or two later on the news was a segment about a fire on the Disneyland Monorail at the hotel!!! So watching , it wasn’t the Monorail , but the beam that caught fire - RIGHT WHERE THAT MOTORHOME had been stuck the day or so before!!! It may have been coincidence- but I doubt it.

Mark : several times at Disneyland we had meetings in some of the meeting rooms in the “new” TDA building. One of the meeting rooms was next to professional staffing and often while waiting for our meeting to start we could here phone interviews going on .....one that stuck out was a lady asking a interviewee about Mechanical Animation .... she was obviously getting the questions from a screening list .... but if was funny to hear the lady asking all these animatronic technical questions - she likely knew nothing about .... lol. Whoever she was questioning , made it to round two and was schedule for another interview with that that department on property! I always wondered if he or she got the job!?

TokyoMagic! said...

Mark, I agree with everyone else, these pics are fantastic!

I remember when the Matterhorn looked like that on the interior. I kind of miss it. There was something that was kind of quaint and crude about it, at the same time.

I have a similar pic of that Big Thunder sign, but by then, it was hanging on the construction wall in front of the Nature's Wonderland demolition. :-(

Mark, I grew up in Whittier. You were lucky to go to Sierra High School in it's final year. I was a freshman when the Whittier Union High School District decided to sell off two of it's seven high schools. Nobody wanted their school to close. I went with friends to a public meeting about the closures. Students were crying and begging the people in charge, not to close their school. Unfortunately, Sierra HS was one of the victims and the following year, it's students were all dispersed to the other high schools. You just missed out on that. I think that would have sucked to have that happen in your senior year.

I could feel your pain about losing some of your photos, and also about not being able to accept the job at Disneyland. In 1983, I also had to call Disney and turn down a job that had been offered to me. It was a VERY difficult thing to do!

Thank you so much for sharing your personal pics and story with us, Mark!

Andrew said...

Wow, that was really cool and interesting!

This might be one of the longest posts on GDB, and that would be a good thing. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures, Mark.

Chuck said...

Mark, thanks for sharing your story and pics. It's cool to know there's yet another fellow AF vet amongst the regular GDB crowd.

I had an opportunity to apply for a "general creative" Imagineering position in '97. I was even TDY at March for a month from Charleston (translation for everyone else - "I was on temporary duty on a military business trip at March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley, CA, from Charleston Air Force Base, SC, for a month") during the hiring period, so getting to the interview would have been a snap. But...I still had 7 months left on my ADSC (translation - "Active Duty Service Commitment") and would not have been available immediately. I also lacked the confidence that I had enough experience in anything they were looking for, and in retrospect I see that I used the ADSC as an excuse not to apply, a decision that I regret. It would have been a good experience even if I hadn't been hired. But, like you, I served a full 20, and I have no regrets about that.

I PCSed (translation - "permanent change of station, a.k.a 'relocated'") 17 times over 44 years as an AF dependent and as an AF member, so I feel your pain at losing that box. I am now a civil servant working in the organization that manages the Defense Personal Property Program, which is responsible for managing the "move" part of ~300,000 military moves every year, and your story, while not the rule, is still something that we deal with every day. One of the expressions we use to explain how personal property differs from other kinds of shipments is that "personal property is freight with feelings." If you damage, lose, or destroy a box of aircraft avionics or a pallet of MREs (translation - "meals, ready to eat"), it can be an expensive mistake, but it's just a bunch of military hardware, and it can be replaced. When you smash great-grandma's buffet, drop the box of baby keepsakes in the bay, or lose Mark Raymond's box of Disneyland movies and slides, you end up destroying a piece of someone's memories, and no matter how much money you throw at it there's no way you can replace that. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

Again, many thanks!

Stu29573 said...

I was pulling for you to make it! I can't imagine how your heart must have sunk when you did...but you couldn't. Still the AF was probably, in the long run, the better career. I've heard things got awfully dicey for Disney employees many times (and, of course, still do). By the way, you're one year older than me. Just an observation...

DrGoat said...

A great life story Mark. I also was rooting for you with the job, but sounds like you made a great life without Disneyland. There are a few of us at GDB, that did make it. I get a lot of valuable, to me, information from them here in the comment section.
Thanks for sharing. The part about the box disappearing really must have been awful. Cripes!
Thanks Mark, for a great morning story. Thanks Major for putting it up for all to read.
Hope you got through all that bad weather in good shape.

Stefano said...

Thanks Mark, nifty pix and story! The Matterhorn Bobsled shots are exciting; the original interior was grungy, but the ride was smoother and at night, doubly thrilling because of the near total darkness.

Did you hear back from Knott's regarding employment? You seemed such an avid Imagineer as a child that maybe that enthusiasm carried over into your success in the Air Force. Sometimes repairing or painting something I would just think of it as rehab on a closed E-Ticket ride.

MRaymond said...

Thank you all for your replies. I haven’t had a chance to post until now.

@K. Martinez I was bummed out for a good two weeks but it is what it is. I thought about trying again in 1992 but by then I had 12 years on active duty (and had rank). The last 8 years was a cakewalk compared to the first 8.

@ Nanook and @Lou and Sue Thank you and yes I have more stories but I’m running out of pictures.

@ Mike Maybe that’s why they build DTD, it keeps vehicles from going under the monorail beam.

@TokyoMagic My brother got caught up in the Sierra closure, he ended up going to CalHi. He was ticked.

@Andrew You’re welcome.

@Chuck Thank you for your service as well. I honestly think one of the German nationals “lost” the box intentionally. Some of the other items in the box were high dollar military goodies (uniforms, cold weather gear, etc). The slide carousels were just in the wrong box.

@Stefano I never heard back from Knott’s but, while I really like Knott’s, it has changed under its current owners. It doesn’t have the appeal to me that it once did.

On another note, my cousins still live in SoCal and have given me a standing invitation to stay at their homes if I want to get back to Disneyland. They are both AP holders which makes it even nicer. Maybe, once this covid business backs down, I’ll take a nice vacation. I haven’t been back to SoCal, and Disneyland, since 1993 when I shot the Youtube videos. My wife and I tried several times but some emergency always drained our funds before we could get it done.

JG said...

Mark, thank you for your service, and for sharing these photos and your story.

I especially enjoy the inside of the Matterhorn, like you, I was always peeking around the edges of things to see what lay behind. Glad to know I wasn't the only one.

I'm sorry that job didn't work out, and for the loss of your photos and keepsakes. Thanks for sharing your memories of our favorite place.

I'm glad I never experienced accidents on the monorails like some of us.

Major, thanks for sharing these photos in a very enjoyable post.


Major Pepperidge said...

To all the Junior Gorillas, I feel a bit odd responding to comments that are mostly directed to Mark (deservedly so), so I will just put in an overall “THANKS” for all the nice comments and the enthusiastic reception to Mark’s story and photos. At first it felt a bit weird to combine the story with the unrelated photos, but I think it worked. Thanks Mark!

I kind of agree with Stu, I’ve known a number of Imagineers on a very casual basis, and even some guys that seemed invulnerable got laid off at some point. As exciting as a career in Imagineering sounds, Disney can be pretty heartless in the way they treat people who have devoted their lives and many long days and nights to make their parks the best.

JC Shannon said...

Wow, what a great story and great photos. I was in the Air Force for 20 years as well. The last time I was in San Antonio was 1972 at Lackland. I remember loving the river walk. I also was devastated when they replaced TMTTNW with a rollercoaster. Your honorable service to your country trumps even a career as an Imagineer in my book. Thank you. Chuck is right, course he usually is. A guy I knew when I was stationed in Germany, ended up with all his stuff at the bottom of the Atlantic. His son is now a pilot flying C-17s in the AF. Thank you for your fantastic post, and thanks to Major as always for this great blog.

Anonymous said...

Always nice to read a report from someone outside Disney and their experiences and pictures. I may have been the JC skipper on your 1977 journey. Also, as a former Miner, I feel your pain regarding the loss of the MTTNW. It was a special treat to operate that ride and one in which folks could just sit back and enjoy it without being thrown here and there or subject to CGI effects. The last shots of Space Mountain brings back the excitement we CMs felt about its opening. I had a chance to be one of the live 'test dummies', but that's a story for another day. As Major said...Imagineers were and are subject to layoff. It is a business. Thank you for your service. In the end, things worked out well for you. Sometimes we just have to adjust our sails when the port we sought can't be reached. KS

Melissa said...

In the words of special guest poet John Greenleaf Whittier,

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, 'It might have been.’”

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Solo bobsled pictures! You rock Mark \m/ \m/ !!! Great pics. Thanks for sharing. Just a bit younger but vaguely remember looking through the fence (in 67') at the finished Mansion and asking why it wasn't open. My parents then read me the "ghosts wanted" sign. Amazing how some of those early memories (of such a visual place)are still there 50+ years later.

P.S. I too was heartbroken at the destruction/replacement of Nature's Wonderland. My favorite as well.

"Lou and Sue" said...

...and yes I have more stories but I’m running out of pictures.

Mark, it doesn't matter that you're running out of pictures, because it's your stories and everyone else's stories, on this blog, that keep everyone coming back...it's fun to experience Disneyland (and all the other places the Major takes us to) together! Please keep sharing!

Sunday Night said...

MRaymond - Thanks for your service to our country. And thanks for your story and your contribution to our group here.

Omnispace said...

Mark, Thanks for sharing your photos and your story. I love the Matterhorn shots and the way they would run the structure wild like on the backside of movie sets. It's pretty much how I remember it. Those monorail controls are also very cool - so analog! I also remember the excitement of Space Mountain finally coming to Disneyland. It was my first two-hour wait for an attraction. I loved hearing your life story. That's unfortunate about the lost photos. Perhaps keep an eye on German eBay for someone selling a lot of Disneyand photos. ;)

Unknown said...

What a story! Thanks to Mark for sharing it and all the great views of Disneyland back when.

Thanks to Major P for sharing this story as well.

I hope you get back to Disneyland someday soon, Mark. Congratulations on your USAF career.