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At the start of my first summer working attractions in the Magic Kingdom, a weathered cast member who'd worked at the park since the day it opened told me this story. I assume it is theme park legend, but I wanted it to be true, because, like many apocryphal stories, it perfectly illustrates the way that theme park employees - and visitors - often feel about crowds in the parks.
Three cast members were "playing in the park" on their day off. For fun, they decided to queue up in front of the door to the riverboat crew's office, around the corner from the Hall of Presidents entrance, in Liberty Square. Sure enough, within a minute, a couple walked up to them.
"What are you in line for?" the man asked.
"I don't know, but we're first!" the leader of the three replied, while the others did their best to keep straight faces.
The man turned to his partner, shrugged, and joined the "line."
Within minutes on this busy summer day, two dozen others had joined the queue, which was now snaking toward the stockade that stands in front of the riverboat dock, about 20 yards away. When the line reached the riverboat's entrance, cutting off the path toward the Haunted Mansion, the original three grinned at one another and the leader nodded. He turned to the first man who'd joined the queue.
"Darn it, it's almost time for our lunch reservations at the Diamond Horseshoe. Gotta go."
With that, the three walked over to the Horseshoe, suppressing laughs the whole way. As they passed the riverboat dock, the leader waved at the riverboat greeter, whom he knew, and said, "I don't know what's going on, but the crowd here looks like it's actually a line waiting for something in front of the crew office over there. You better check it out."
The three then ran for it, as the greeter walked over to the front of the crowd, wondering why a line would have formed in front of an unmarked (though well-themed) utility door.
"Excuse me, sir," he asked the man who'd first joined the queue, "but what do you think you are in line for?"
"I don't know," he replied.
"But I'm first!"
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