Theme park cast member stories: Tempted by the smells of Adventureland
Published: February 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM
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.