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Theme park cast member stories: Tempted by the smells of Adventureland

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Published: February 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

They'd warned me about the Treehouse.

Even before I started working in Adventureland attractions at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, I'd known about the Swiss Family Treehouse. I'd enjoyed climbing through the treehouse when I was a kid - especially on those rare occasions, late at night, when there wasn't a crowd pushing me like zombies from room to room. But I'd already figured that the treehouse wasn't going to be the most exciting place to work.

One cast member would stand at the treehouse turnstiles, holding the line from time to time so that the crowd wouldn't overload the bridge over the old Swan Boat channel. When the crowd got really large, you'd open up the queue that snaked back and forth in a little hut behind the turnstiles. Mostly, though, you just stood out front and told folks, no, this isn't the line for the Jungle Cruise. That's up ahead, on your left. Have a nice day.

So when other cast members warned me before my first shift working the treehouse, I expected another lecture about boredom, about the importance of keeping a positive attitude even as my brain began to rust from inactivity.

But that's not what everyone said.

"Try not to let the Egg Roll Wagon drive you crazy," they said.

The Egg Roll Wagon? That little food cart that set up next to the Treehouse queue? How would that drive me crazy? I couldn't remember it ever getting that long a line. Was there something strange about the foods person who worked it? Were they really bored, too, and going to attempt to deal that with by driving me nuts with mindless chit-chat?

I walked past the wagon on my way to the treehouse. The foods person didn't even glance at me. The wagon looked perfectly normal. Why would anyone warn me about this?

And, then, I inhaled.

That smell. Ahhh, I understood. Standing here for two hours at a time, unable to purchase, much less eat, that which I was smelling would be the worst torture imaginable at Disney World.

If you've walked past the Egg Roll Wagon recently, you might not understand what I'm talking about. But I worked the treehouse years ago, back when the Adventureland Egg Roll Wagon sold the most aromatic delight ever offered in a theme park.

The Egg Roll Dog.

It was a hot dog, bathed in cheese, wrapped in a won ton skin and deep fried, like an egg roll. Warming under the heat lamp, it let broadcast throughout the treehouse queue the aroma of spicy beef, cheese and crispy goodness that left any perpetually hungry, 20-something cast member drooling.

Disney made more than a few dollars off its cast members with that cart. After my shift, I raced through the tunnels to change into my street clothes, just so I could race back to Adventureland and buy one of those Bad Boys.

Warm in my hands, I raised the egg roll to my mouth, and bit into the crispy won ton wrapper, which shattered with my bite. Then, the egg roll unleased its flow of nuclear-hot liquid cheese, scorching my tongue so badly I had to let that precious first bite drop back into the napkin as I yelped in pain.

Which, of course, meant that I had to drop a few more bucks on a Dole Whip Float from the adjacent stand, to cool my blistered tongue. A few minutes later, my tongue had recovered and I finished the dog, washing it down with the pineapple juice from the float.

Fortunately, for my waistline and my bank account, I didn't work that many shifts that included stints at the treehouse. Instead, I spent many more days working safely away from the allure of the Egg Roll Wagon, pulling shifts in Frontierland.

Right next to the Turkey Leg Wagon.

You can read more of Robert's stories about working at Walt Disney World at themeparkinsider.com/stories.

Readers' Opinions

From Fred Roy on February 14, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Don't remember ever seeing that cart. Have to try it next time I'm at the Magic Kingdom. I do miss the Polynesian Restaurant that was across from the tree house.
From Patrick Doublin on February 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM
Ohhh, I work as a cashier at Rancho sometimes and it is painful to watch people ear their gigantic Tostada Salads and Tres Leche cake in front of me as they pay. And the Crispitos!
From Andrew Swanson on February 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM
This story brings back memories of my days working entertainment at Disney World. As a close "Friend" of people in high places, I frequently found myself at the Crystal Palace Buffet, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian, or the Liberty Tree Tavern. Onstage, the buffet looked and smelled delicious. As a Cast Member on a College Program wage, those meals were something I couldn't afford, so after wandering around the buffet for 40 minutes, I got to eat a home made turkey sandwich during my set break, which doesn't really fulfill the expectations that the buffet sets.
From Robert Niles on February 14, 2011 at 3:32 PM
Even trash looked appetizing when you're a hungry college student working summer in a theme park. It killed me to walk past the back of the Liberty Tree Tavern in the tunnels and to see buckets of empty lobster shells sitting there, waiting as the foods cast members filled the trash chute.

I'd start thinking about all the lobster that had been inside those tail shells just moments before and.... darn, now I'm getting hungry again.

From Tom Rigg on February 14, 2011 at 3:57 PM
This post took me back to a forgotten memory. When I was a kid and we went to WDW there was a rite of passage that my older brother had had and I yearned for: getting to go off by myself to a park when my parents had their night alone. Previously I had always ended up at the Neverland club or with a private babysitter with my little sister. I don't remember the exact year I gain this privilege, but I remember exactly what I did. I went, like any good preteen in love with Disney World, straight to The Magic Kingdom. I had my whole night planned, including dinner at the Crystal Palace. At this time it was still a cafeteria and my family was on the Gold Key Plan. (I'm still not sure how my parents afforded these trips on a minister's and a bank teller's income) I entered the Crystal Palace and made my selection, the exact same egg roll dog that you described, however, I think it went by a different name. I can actually still remember how great it tasted.

So thanks for bringing back such a fond memory!

From Robert Niles on February 14, 2011 at 4:42 PM
To be honest, I can't remember the exact name for the egg roll hot dog - I seem to remember, though, that it changed names at least once before it ultimately disappeared from the menu around a decade ago. Anyone with a better memory for names?
From 66.18.129.152 on February 14, 2011 at 4:50 PM
NO, but I do know they don't sell it anymore.
From Tom Rigg on February 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM
I want to say that when I had it at the Crystal Palace it had a Mexican/Southwest name.
From Anthony Murphy on February 14, 2011 at 9:27 PM
Thats one of my most favorite carts!

I never was thrilled with Swiss Family Treehouse. Its a line ride!

From Rob P on February 15, 2011 at 3:15 AM
Is the wagon still there ? I heard it rolled off into the sunset a couple of years ago. So now I'm conjuring up the aroma of those egg roll dogs knowing that I can't ever have one. Arrgh !!!
From 99.26.214.222 on February 15, 2011 at 7:38 AM
Hey, great post! Just wanted to add that the egg roll wagon is still there sans the egg roll dog (or at least it was in July.) The egg rolls are one of my favorite snacks in the Magic Kingdom, and I had several on my most recent trip!
From Jason Kwan on February 15, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Man, every time I work at the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I'm caught in between a battlefield of amazing smells. I really don't know how the animals can stand it everyday. If you're looking at the entrance of the Trek, to the right is a beer cart that sells Cinnamon Glazed Almonds/Pecans which is one of the best smells I have ever smelled in that park. And what's worse is the nearby Yak and Yeti restaurant which almost always smells like hamburgers during lunch time. When you're about to go on lunch and you're stuck in your position, forced to smell the aroma that comes from that restaurant, it's like torture. You can almost taste the burgers as you smell the air. The worst position on the Trek (in terms of smells) is the Greeter Position because you're smack dab in between the Yak and Yeti restaurant and that beer cart.
One day, on my day off, I made it my goal to try one of those Cinnamon Glazed Almonds. When I tried them, it tasted amazing but it's a lot like eating cereal so it wasn't anything too special, but good none-the-less. But after I tried Yak and Yeti, I was instantly hooked. Now, no trip to Animal Kingdom is complete without eating at the Yak and Yeti.
From 70.110.219.65 on February 18, 2011 at 7:52 PM
I don't recall seeing or smelling the Egg Roll Dog but there always appears to be one particular food item that stays with you from your visits to WDW. My son and I were hung up on the Dixie Burgers at Port Orleans Riverside formerly known as Dixie Landings. For some odd reason a Cheese Burger always seemed to taste immensely better at this resort. My son use to tease me during the course of the year, "Mmmm Dixie Burger" until we managed another trip back, usually every other year.
By the way here in South Philly where Soft Pretzels are a part of our heritage they make a Pretzel Dog, the dough wrapped around a Dog or an Italian Sausage which sounds like WDW Dog.
From 98.195.229.76 on February 19, 2011 at 8:16 AM
Oriental Cheese Dog? I remember it and it was one of our very favorite treats. Outside of world peace, I can't think of a better cause than getting this item back at MK.
From 108.25.42.183 on February 19, 2011 at 11:24 AM
I remember the Goofy Burgers before it was called "Downtown Disney". Pecos Bill's are close, but the mouth wants what the mouth wants!!
From 68.170.18.123 on February 20, 2011 at 7:27 AM
After working at Pirates of the Caribbean for three years, I have almost mimicked this same story line to my family. More recently the food cart in ad/lib releases aromas of warm, toasty, sweet honey roasted almonds.... This makes "stroller duty" slightly more torturous.

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