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Theme park cast member stories: Yes, we have no bananas in the Treehouse today

By Robert Niles
Published: January 24, 2011 at 8:56 AM
A recent story in the New Yorker detailed why bananas might soon be disappearing from store shelves. Which reminded me of the time a bunch of bananas did a Disney disappearing act.

Have you ever taken the time to look closely at the lush plants you'll find growing throughout the Walt Disney World Resort? Standing next to the turnstiles at the Swiss Family Treehouse, you've got a lot of time to notice the abundant flora in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland. (I also nearly went crazy from the smell of the nearby egg roll cart, too, but that's another story.)

I'm no horticulture expert. But I know a thing or two about food. So I did a double-take when I stepped across the queue bridge to the treehouse steps on my pre-opening walk-through one morning.

Swiss Family Treehouse

"Are those... bananas?"

Sure enough, a bunch of very green, somewhat small bananas was growing in what had always looked to me like a nondescript bush next to the big fake Banyan tree trunk that supported the Robinsons' home.

I mentioned it to the lead when I came back to the Tiki Room office for my break, lacking anything else interesting talk about after an hour watching disoriented guests plod through the treehouse queue, 90 percent of them thinking they were in line for the Jungle Cruise next door.

"You're kidding," he said, jumping from his chair. "I want to see."

As you can tell, it's an exciting life at the Tiki Room.

By the end of the day, word spread to the rest of the six of us, and we'd concocted quite a plan for the bananas. We'd wait until just before they were ripe, then go in and grab 'em for the Tiki Room and Treehouse crew. A day or two later, when they were soft and yellow, it's be BananaFest behind the Tiki Room. Someone would bake some banana bread. We'd bring in ice cream for banana splits. We'd have all the bananas we could eat. I anticipated half the crew calling sick from Potassium poisoning.

Our excitement backfired, though, and with something to look forward to (after all this time!), the days passed even more slowly in the Treehouse queue. You say a watched pot never boils? Well, a watched banana takes its sweet time growing up and getting ripe, too.

A couple weeks later, we couldn't wait any longer. The decision was made - tomorrow morning, we're going in. Someone volunteered to bring a saw from home, to cut loose the bunch. Operation BananaFest was ready to commence.

(You're way ahead of me on this one, aren't you?)

I arrived for my shift the next morning to find a even more depressed Tiki and Treehouse crew waiting for me. The bananas were gone. Third-shift maintenance must have done the deed, someone said. Others had had their eyes on our bananas.

Our lead got into an argument with a maintenance lead, accusing them of swiping the bananas. The maintenance techs denied it. (We were all operating in a gray legal area here, since the bananas were Disney property, after all.) The bananas were gone, and we couldn't report it without looking like we'd been planning to steal them all along.

There was noting we could do. So we all just tried putting it out of our mind. (Mind-numbing was a skill one needed to master working the treehouse queue. And we had.)

We'd done a pretty good job of it, too. Until the two mornings later, when we saw two maintenance techs responding to a pre-opening call at the Jungle. As they walked by, we could see that they were eating... bananas.

For more of Robert's stories about working at Walt Disney World, please visit themeparkinsider.com/stories.

Readers' Opinions

From Scott Joseph on January 24, 2011 at 9:33 AM
The bananas that grow here in Florida are indeed very tasty. But as you noted, they take months to get to the plucking point. I wonder if any of those who cut the bananas off the trees noticed stains that wouldn't wash out of their costumes. When I cut down banana trees in my backyard I make certain I'm wearing something I don't mind ruining. I had a terrific bunch of bananas nearing ripening stage last month when the first of our several freezes hit. All gone now. But they'll be back -- it's Florida after all!
From Joshua Counsil on January 24, 2011 at 3:38 PM
This sounds like something that would happen to George Costanza.
From Tony Perkins on January 24, 2011 at 10:09 PM
I thought the punch line was going to be that the bananas were new artificial props put in by Imagineers.
From 98.14.59.201 on January 25, 2011 at 8:58 PM
I thought U were going to say gusts were eating them waiting for the treehouse ride

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