I worked at Disneyland for a few years while I was in college, and before I started working in entertainment, I worked a summer at Fantasyland West attractions (Snow white, Dumbo, Pinnochio, Casey Jr.). The job was really fun and also terrifying as hell, because I’m well…not a tech saavy person whatsoever. My rides used to break down all the time, and to be honest, the Fantasyland West attractions are creepy. Which is also why I love them. The rides ooze the history of the park. They’ve been sitting around since either Disneyland park opening or a couple months after. And while they don’t necessarily have the creepy factor of the Coney Island rides at Luna Park (their Scary ride is terrifying and you might as well be in the movie The Fun House), they’re still lovable creepy dark rides.
When I was new to attractions, every first was kind of scary (I.e, the first time you open an attraction, the first time you close an attraction, the first time you drive Casey Jr. emergency light goes off because a monkey cage door is loose so you stop the train to shut it properly and you forget how to re-start the train so you holler down to the cast member sailing by on Storybook boats to see how to start it…anyhoo). My first time closing up Pinnochio’s Daring Journey was hella scary.
First off, imagine that Fantasyland is empty and it’s just you and your closing buddy to shut this thing down. First, you had to stop the “show,” which meant that you were bringing all of the animatronics to a halt and freezing any movement of the vehicles. The point of doing this was so that you could do your walk-thru of the attraction. You would then turn on the work lights, which brightens the attraction so you can clearly see everything.
There were a lot of things you were looking for on walk-thru’s…debris on the tracks, lost and found items, etc. Just imagine how terrifying it was to walk through the entire ride with every animatronic frozen in place, with all of the music and sound effects turned off…
Pleasure Island was the scene that gave me my first scare working in Fantasyland.
During park hours, it’s the most vibrant scene in the park, so after-hours it’s absolutely chilling. I rounded a corner with my nose buried in my check off list, and looked up and I was face to face with the guard of Pleasure Island.
His eyes were moving! They were still moving back and forth! I thought that I must’ve forgotten to turn off a power button on the console, but I knew I had turned everything off and his eyes were still moving back and forth.
I told my lead who laughed and let me in on a little secret. Apparently the techs had rigged the eyes so that they would still move even after the ride is shut down to spook the cast members. It sure worked for me! Next time you’re in the ride screaming when you see Monstro, keep an eye out for the guard…he’s actually the most terrifying.