USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘disney’
Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Kinesthetic
Magic
Signs

Happily Ever After – Server’s Edition

Informant Info:   The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: You’ve worked for Disney for the past 3 years, almost 4 now. Have you ever encountered any traditions within locations that are outside of the realm of general work operations?

 

Interviewee: Well, I think I have one for you. When I was at Be Our Guest, there was a giant mosaic at the entrance of the restaurant. Every morning when opening, we would follow general opening procedures and then have the normal pre-shift meeting that all locations have… not that you would know since you were always closing at Satu’li (laugther)! Anyways, the mosaic, in case you don’t know, is one of the scenes of the Happily Ever After between Belle and the Beast. After pre-shift, we all had to walk outside to greet guests and drop the rope. But before doing so or starting any shift, every server would walk up to the mosaic and touch it. To them, it was like a good luck charm. In order to have a good shift, they needed to touch it and by doing so they would get lucky and have their own happily ever after by getting good tables and tips. Otherwise, without touching, they would likely have a bad shift. It sounds stupid, but it’s something I always witnessed them doing!

Analysis:

It seems almost natural that workers (or cast members, as they are called) are deriving their own superstitions off popular folklore. The mosaic that she is referring to in the story reflects the ending scene in Disney’s version of The Beauty and the Beast. It is a depiction of the ballroom scene of Belle and the Beast dancing, and the red rose blossoming in the background. This scene in the movie symbolizes the happy ending for the two, as the Belle and the (now) Prince can spend the rest of their lives together after the curse has been lifted. The superstition among the Disney servers just reflects variation on this by, as Kim points out, serving as a lucky charm for their own happily ever after… by the method of good tips!

BeautyBeast

 

Citations: Trousdale, Gary and Kirk Wise, directors. Beauty and the Beast. Walt Disney, 1991.

Photo from Google Images

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

My mom repeatedly told me this phrase throughout my young childhood. It was usually when my sister and I would be fighting or have an argument. Sometimes I would be so angry with her, for what ever petty reason, and we would just go back and forth yelling and calling each other names. To get the initial arguing stopped, and curb the name calling, my mom would often sternly exclaim, “ Stop it right now! You know you’re not supposed to talk like that! If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

When my mom would say that to us our arguments would quickly come to an end. It just made sense, when she would say that I would quickly think to myself of anything I could say to my sister at that moment that was not malicious. Many times I would have to remain silent, but occasionally I could come up with something nice to say, and after that fighting just seemed stupid.

Annotation: This phrase can be found in the movie Bambi, by Walt Disney Productions (Which makes me think that’s where she got it from).

general
Legends
Narrative

Contemporary Legend – American

In Disney’s Aladdin, Aladdin says “good teenagers, take off your clothes” while visiting

Jasmine on his magic carpet.

I heard this urban legend at the age of eleven in my fifth grade French class.  While we were watching Aladdin in French, my friend turned to me and told me this urban legend.  However, she told me you could only hear Aladdin say it if the volume is turned all the way up; when the time came for Aladdin to say “good teenagers, take off your clothes,” I could not hear it because our class was listening to the movie at a normal volume level.  I have heard this urban legend from several other people; however, I cannot remember when or where.

I have heard other urban legends that suggest Disney has put sexual references into several of their children’s movies.  I believe that it is possible for Disney to have sexual references in their movies; certain employees may find it entertaining to sexual subliminal messages in children’s movies.

Recently, I researched this urban legend on the Internet to see whether or not it is true. According to the Urban Legend Reference Pages, this urban legend is false.  Disney claims that the real script at this part of the movie is “C’mon, good kitty. Take off and go.”

general
Legends
Narrative

Contemporary Legend

“My sister told me that inside the top of the Matterhorn at Disneyland there is a basketball court.  Apparently, years ago, there used to be people that would climb the Matterhorn, people hired by Disneyland as entertainers.  When they were waiting to climb, the people could play basketball to pass the time.  I’m pretty sure that Disneyland discontinued the climbers, but at night during the fireworks, Tinkerbell flies from the top of the Matterhorn, so its possible that she uses the basketball court before the show starts.”

In December 2007, Sarah visited the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, CA.  She said that while telling her sister about her plans to visit the park, her sister told her about the secret basketball court inside the Matterhorn ride.  Her sister found out this information from a friend’s father who used to work at Disneyland, and therefore was trusted as a credible informant.  When Sarah visited Disneyland, she said that asked the tram driver if there really was a basketball court at the top of the Matterhorn, and he confirmed the story.  He said that it is smaller than a half court, but it has a hoop, backboard, and lines marking the floor.

Because so few people know that there actually is a basketball court inside the ride, many people think it is a merely a rumor that adds to the mystery of Disneyland.  In addition to the “hidden mickeys” in the park, and the underground tunnel system used by characters and cast members, the basketball court is another example of the many Disney secrets that the public is often not aware of.  Although hearing about such a strange urban legend is probably interesting in any situation, since so many people have been to Disneyland, the context of hearing the legend is enhanced in Sarah’s case since she discussed it while she was at Disneyland.  She was able to see the Matterhorn in person, and talk to someone who worked for the park that could confirm the legend.  She said it made her trip to Disneyland even more special, because she felt like she got to be part of a secret.

Most of the time, urban legends are not falsifiable and therefore cannot be proven or disproven.  Sarah had direct access to a Disney employee, though, and therefore was about to confirm the story.  On one hand, this can be viewed as a detriment to Sarah, because some of the mystery of Disneyland has been taken away.  However, knowing about a secret basketball court has not ruined Sarah’s perception of the theme park, and in fact has caused her to feel more curious about what other strange things exist inside Disneyland.

When Sarah told me about this Disney secret, I did not believe her at first.  Because I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life and have visited Disneyland countless times, it is hard to believe that I had never heard of the basketball court before.  This attitude probably added to the strength of the urban legend, though, since those types of stories are especially good at challenging a person’s beliefs.  Like Sarah, I also felt that learning about the basketball court did not detract from my appreciation of the magical world of Disney.  Instead, it made me want to further investigate other secrets in the park and learn more.  I think because I’ve grown up going to Disneyland and felt so sure that I knew every part of the park, this new information is especially intriguing.  This may hold true for others as well and could also help explain why people are so interested in hearing urban legends.

Annotation:  The following book confirms the basketball court in the Matterhorn, and also provides more information about the inner-workings of Disneyland:

Koenig, David. Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland. Irvine, CA: Bonaventure Press, 1994.

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