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Theme park cast member stories: The one with the security camera

Written by
Published: September 13, 2010 at 10:23 AM

In answer to popular questions about working at the Walt Disney World Resort:

"Are there really security cameras everywhere at Walt Disney World?"

Well, I wouldn't say that they are everywhere, but Disney uses security cameras in many of its attractions.

"Have you ever seen, well, you know...?"

Yes.

"But I didn't say what I meant."

Doesn't matter. Whatever you meant, we've seen it happening on a security camera at Disney World.

Here's the warning: Bail out of this story now if you're easily offended.

Still here? Oh-kay. Let's proceed.

It's parade time in the afternoon during one of the slower months of the year in the Magic Kingdom. I'm sitting in the control tower at Pirates of the Caribbean and our line has evaporated, as almost everyone in this side of the park has made their way over to Frontierland for the parade. The only people still in our queue are a young couple, a man and a woman in their late teens or early 20s. They get into a boat, alone. Nothing but empty boats around them.

I know that they're aware of this, too, because both of them are looking around at the empty boats as they're dispatched from the loading platform.

"Why is she looking around so much?" another Pirate cast member, walking through the tower, asks.

I arch an eyebrow.

"Oh," he replies, as two other cast members walk in from the adjacent break room.

All eyes are on the bank of video monitors in front of us. Sure enough, as the boat approaches the flume drop in Hurricane Cove, where the camera looks at the passing boats from behind, we see not two bodies in the boat, but one.

"Where'd she go?" one cast member asks. Several of us arch eyebrows this time, in response. Another CM rushes into the break room, to make a phone call.

I'm not proud of what I did next. With my left hand, I flip a switch on the console, activating the boat stop at the top of the drop. A pair of metal plates swing into the ride flume at that point, catching the front wheels underneath the boat, stopping it from going over the drop.

With a bump, the boat stops, suddenly. The young lady's head pops up, now visible in the screen.

"Oooo," a couple of the male CMs say, wincing. Like I said, I'm not proud.

"Oh, there she is," replies the CM who'd asked, now turning as red as our pirate vests.

I release the boat stop as the couple plunges into the abyss.

There are no security cameras in the battle scene, so we can't see what the couple is, uh, up to for the next couple of minutes. But just before they re-emerge in the chase scene's camera, the door to the control tower bursts open.

In rush two supervisors and what seems like an entire crew of Jungle Cruise skippers. All gather around the monitors. No one says a word.

No one needs to. We all know why they're here.

We watch empty boat after empty boat enter the chase scene. And then, our friends return. From the angle of the camera in the chase scene, we get a full frontal view of the action in our grainy black-and-white monitor.

Silence, all around. Then, from the back of the now-crowded small control room, a giggle.

Then another.

Then, laughter erupts all around. Several of the Pirate CMs rush out of the room, down the staircase toward the unload platform. A couple of the Jungle skippers step to follow, before the supervisors grabs one by the collar. Oh yeah, they're out of theme here and can't be seen on stage.

The couple's out of camera view in the burning city, but within a minute they'll be at the unload station. In the camera monitor, I see the CMs who bailed out of tower arrive at unload. Back in the tower, the CM standing next to me pulls the microphone toward him.

"You're not," I say to him.

"Of course I am," he replies, with a wide grin, as he pushes the button to activate the unload station speaker.

The couple arrives, sitting quietly and composed in their boat, as if nothing unusual's happened. But as they step up to leave, my colleague on the mic speaks.

"For your safety, this has been a camera-monitored attraction."

I'm told a minute later by the CMs who were there that the young lady put her hands over her face and ran from the unload platform. Her boyfriend? He made eye contact with the CMs... and smiled as he strutted out of the room.

The supervisors shooed the Jungle CMs back to their attraction and I looked up at the clock. My shift ended five minutes ago. With the post-parade rush of guests now flooding into Adventureland, I walked out quickly, to avoid getting caught in the crowd.

About 10 minutes later, I'm changed into my regular clothes and waiting for the shuttle bus outside the tunnel entrance behind It's a Small World. Several CMs whom I know work on the east-side, at Space Mountain and the Speedway, are talking excitedly as we board the bus. I overhear them.

"Did you hear about what happened at Pirates today?"

For more stories about life working in the Magic Kingdom, visit themeparkinsider.com/stories.

Readers' Opinions

From 70.118.38.42 on September 13, 2010 at 10:30 AM
So instead of following OG, and stopping the attraction and either warning them or taking them off the ride you let them go through the entire attraction with no actual warning? And mangers where on site and they didnt do anything either? Sounds fishy. Not doubting that it doesnt happen, as a Cast/Team member ive seen it happen at 3 different parks, but we usually dont call a crowd to watch.
From 67.216.151.60 on September 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM
That's messed up. They weren't hurting anybody and noone was around. They were just having a little fun.
From Stephen Landsman on September 13, 2010 at 10:51 AM
I guess some people think pirates are exciting.
From Scott B on September 13, 2010 at 10:56 AM
Ha ha, this so could have been a plot from a movie in the 80's. National Lampoon's Pirates of the Carribean!
From 76.111.240.187 on September 13, 2010 at 11:19 AM
I'm a CM @ DisneyQuest and we have a big problem with that happening at Alien Encounter, even though the guests have to walk right by the console with the monitor right on it they still go 4 deep into the attraction thinking nobody is watching. Little do they know its Infrared camera time and i'd say we get That issue more than once a month lol
From 173.162.139.169 on September 13, 2010 at 12:05 PM
I was almost afraid to keep reading when I read:

"I'm not proud of what I did next. With my left hand, I "

From Robert Niles on September 13, 2010 at 12:17 PM
+1 to the anonymous poster. :-)

In my defense, it wouldn't be safe for a guest to go over the falls unless she was sitting up, facing forward like she was supposed to. So I simply was doing the right thing by deploying that boat stop, right?

And whatever guilt I felt toward the guy, well, I lost that with his reaction at the end.

From 64.255.180.72 on September 13, 2010 at 12:21 PM
Well she obvisouly shivered his timbers and he got the booty! AARGHH
From 173.162.139.169 on September 13, 2010 at 12:34 PM
I agree, you were protecting the guest from hurting them self or possibly their fellow rider. That would have been a nightmare if the poor girl hit her head and ended up with a concussion. ;)
From Daniel Etcheberry on September 13, 2010 at 2:10 PM
Mr Niles, why did you stop the boat? Don't tell me you did it just to watch!

Anyways, I laughed a lot with the announcement over the speaker part.

From Jack Curley on September 13, 2010 at 2:48 PM
My ex-girlfriend was a Disney employee (back when The Disney store was still owned by Disney) and went to WDW all the time. She told me she knew "all the spots" where you weren't being watched. I never got to find out if she was right.

And for the record, I admire your dedication to that young woman's safety, Robert.

From Daniel Etcheberry on September 13, 2010 at 3:33 PM
Mr Niles, when you stopped the boat, you should have turned off the lights.
From Jorge Arnoldson on September 13, 2010 at 4:47 PM
I recall being on my first ride on Pirates of the Caribbean (WDW), when about a minute or two after the drop, a female CM came on the PA system, warning guests not to touch the water. Way to ruin the magic.

Speaking of which, there's two YouTube vids of people getting caught filming Star Tours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EYrK7shgyw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvdxRNbxBQc&feature=related

From Ted Heumann on September 13, 2010 at 5:16 PM
This kind of thing has happened at Disneyland's Pirates too. I never personally witnessed it because I was in Merchandising, but I heard about it.
My buddy also saw LOTS of people in various states of undress on the Haunted Mansion. When he was there, there were not any cameras in that attraction, but the cast members knew how to follow doom buggies without the occupates knowing they were there.
From Pyra-Danny V on September 13, 2010 at 5:56 PM
I made the mistake of reading this post at work... and I almost died laughing.

The CM at the unloading dock should have nonchalantly said, "I hope you had a magical ride" then give a wink.

The guy's theme song at day's end? "Yo HO yo HO a pirate's life for me" (cough... the "ho" part)

From Anthony Murphy on September 13, 2010 at 8:06 PM
Great Story!

BTW, Disney Store is owned by Disney again. They bought it back!

I do think its a safety issue as well!

From Brandon Townsend on September 14, 2010 at 8:16 AM
I've heard of hidden Mickeys. But hidden BJs?
From 173.215.179.84 on September 14, 2010 at 2:36 PM
Love this story Robert! See, cast member stories are the best...

It's full with:

action - on the boat!
directing - (from your part) making the head magically appear
sound effects - fellow cast member over the speaker
witnesses "#@%" I mean public - all the interested cast members
joy! - before they got out
shame - after they been discovered!
gossip - the Disney news report across the park!

Love it!
Is themeparinsider for ADULTS, baby!

-Francisco-

From Raymond Sydowski on September 14, 2010 at 9:40 PM
The TTA had this same problem as well. And it had similar cameras. I was there when a couple was being led out by a manager and a security team, apparently to get a perma-ban from the park, and to be charged with public indecency by the Orange County Sheriff's Dept.
From Will Chilcote on September 15, 2010 at 1:16 AM
Is that a guest removed from the park property offense? I figured that kinda thing happened occasionally but, didn't know how disney reacted.

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