WIOD Disney Diaries
by AK - October 21, 2013
Monday Afternoon Bedtime Story – WIOD Disney Diaries
I’ve covered my experience with the live broadcast part of these shows in a previous bed time story.
This one isn’t about Neil, or Rick and Suds, or Randi or Phil. This one is about the Producers, promotions staff, and the rest of us WIOD flunkies who were let loose on Disney World one long weekend.
The way these remote broadcasts go down is like this: The Client, Disney, is celebrating some big deal and wants to have the whole station head up there and broadcast their shows live from the parks in their studios on Park grounds. So the station, in addition to charging them a small fortune, insists that they’ll need to pay for all the hosts, and their spouses, and their kids attend, as well as each show’s producer, the promotions team, engineers, middle management, program directors, and Sales staff. Disney: “Okay”.
And in return, the entire station does their broadcast live from the studios in the park, interviewing their marketing director about the opening of the new ride, their President about what’s planned for later this year, local celebrities who are on site to promote their own Disney related products and shows, etc etc. And between all that, they’ll talk to a few callers on the phone and deal with echo in the headphones, and talk back to the studio to play a sound effect or bit because they cant bring that stuff with them to the park, all while trying to keep it very clean and “disneyesque”.
Say what you want about Disney… they’re no Mickey Mouse operation. Nothing happens in that park that’s unplanned.
Except when WIOD Producers show up.
The plan was we all truck up there on Wednesday night, separately. Each show does their normal shift on Thurs and Fri. We get to stay the weekend and check out Sunday.
And aside from the shows, and a few meetings with Disney representatives, we were on our own for the most part, with free world passes, transportation and food.
Thursday morning we arrive and are immediately meeting with the Disney marketing Reps who hand us all our tickets, passes, and goodies, including a huge bag containing Disney pins and an empty Photo Album marking their 20th Anniversary. Remember those commercials? “ONE….TWO….THRE, FOUR, FIVESIXSEVENEIGHTNINETENELEVEN…”
Walt Disney World 20th Anniversary TV Commercial #2
So we finish out meeting, scarf down our free top notch lunch they provided and head off to our hotels.
The air staff, sales staff, and managers all stay in one of the big luxury places.
The riff-raff like me and the rest of the producers and promo staff get a middle level hotel, rooming all next to each other at Port Orleans.
And it’s like straight out of a college co-ed movie from the minute we check in.
We’re SOOOO loud in the lobby. Half of us are already baked from the drive over from the lunch meeting, the other half are in the bag having already been to the bar. We’re falling over each other’s luggage, some of us are just using just trash bags. We’ve got beepers going off, loudly reciting inappropriate Neil drops (“Rectum! Damn near Killed him! OHH!”), asking the Concierge where we can buy smokes and booze, and too jazzed up about 4 free days in the Magic Kingdom to pay attention to the reservations desk telling us where our rooms are located.
We dump our stuff in the rooms, grab our gear, and head to the park. MGM (Now Disney Hollywood Studios) had a real radio station just inside the main entrance, and we’re broadcasting from there.
Each show does their normal gig, and out side of that, we’re free to do whatever we want.
Most of us wander close by where we need to be, hanging out at MGM before our shifts for a few hours, taking in a ride or 3, before heading to the studios for the show. After each show, those working it head back to Port Orleans until we’re all there, all shows done for the day, and we get ready.
We sat in each other’s rooms smoking and drinking.. and then hit the park. We were a mob of like 8 or so.. 9 guys and gals all in their 20s, all on a paid, no holds barred party vacation in the Magic Kingdom.
“EPCOT FIRST!” someone says. I second the motion with “There’s BOOZE there”. And off we go.
Backpacks in hand for a change of clothes, disposable cameras, pockets stuffed with free tickets and wristbands.
We all get on the old BALL ride narrated by Walter Kronkite, where they slowly go over the history of human communication, in cars 2x2. And we’re yelling back at our group behind and out to the ones up ahead of us. As each of our cars pass the “radio” area with Marconi each yells out “OHHH!!!” . It sounded like an echo as each of our cars passed it. “OHHH!” OHHH!” OHHHH!” Cars in front of our group and craning their necks to see who’s behind us… the ones behind us are avoiding eye contact when we turn around after they “shhhhh” us.
Off that ride and straight to England to drink some beer. Then off to Mexico for the the slow boat ride and dinner (con cerveza y margaritas!) Off to Body Wars, pausing in the darkness to party in secrecy. Fireworks. France and Italy for Deserts. More pausing in darkness. Back to England.
Even after the park closed, we continued the party. A group of us gathered in Halcyon and her friend Chastine’s room, drinking, clowning around, flirting. Some stumbled home (a few doors down on the floor) and others fell asleep in their clothes on the floor or in beds.
The next morning was a train wreck. Everyone waking in a fog in their strange hotel room. Some waking in a fog in someone else’s hotel room. Struggling to get dressed to go get coffee and breakfast, then back to the park for work.
When Friday ended, there was no reason to hold back any longer. We didn’t care if we saw our bosses, the hosts with spouses or kids, managers.. We went home showered, and went straight to Pleasure Island, which was only a few years old at that time, so the novelty of it was new, and amazing, and insane. We went club to club, celebrating New Years Eve. We pretended to be a group of tourists from Oklahoma. We pretended to be a family. We pretended to be college students. We just didn’t care.
At some point, one of us referenced the 20th Anniversary.. and that commercial that ran, showing 20 fun reasons to go to Disney. And an idea and theme to our madness was created… like Frankenstein’s monster.
“Let’s create our OWN 20 reasons, take pictures, and fill up that huge photo album they gave us!”
Resounding “YES”’s by all solidified it. And for the next 2 nights and two days, we ransacked the park, pestering patrons, ticket takers, maintenance guys, even characters into performing tricks so we could get them all done.
And everywhere we went skipping, stumbling, smoking, stuporing we sang at the top of our lungs, the song.
“ONE.dadadadadada TWO..dadadadadada THREE..dadaFOUR..dada FIVESIXSEVENEIGHTNINETENELEVEN. TWELVE..dadadadadadTHIRTEEN….”
“Huey Dewey and Louie! Hold up ONE FINGER!!! “
“THREE!!!!” we all yell in unison.. “dadadadad ..FOUR.dadadadaFIVESIXSEVENEAIGHTNINETENELEVEN” and go on our way.
Photo bombing (long before that was an actual word) families who’ve waited their entire lives and saved for years to go had us holding up fingers in front of their picture at the castle.
5 Shots of rum on the counter for us “FIVESIXSEVENEIGHTNINETENELEVEN”
“Hey! Let’s get 10 girls from the Norway Ride in Epcot and use them and their boobs for 20” – “DONE! LETS GO!” and we’d grab our passes, take the tram and go get our picture with them and their boobs.
It was possibly the most drunken, out of control, Disney Themed scavenger hunt ever.
At one point, someone had lost their ticket, and we actually scammed our way in, handing our scanable park ticket back thru the fence to them so we could all be inside when we took the picture.
Finally, down to only the number “ONE” late Sunday afternoon, seated for lunch, we couldn’t figure out or agree what should cap off this incredible memorable adventure. We only had another 2 hours or so before we had to start the drive back home.. and we were at a total stand still. Marvin suggested just a picture of the photo album. Some people liked that idea. Not bad. Someone suggested just a rolled joint. Some people liked that one too… Not bad.
That’s when our waiter, the most flamboyant, lisping, tip-toeing, gay guy popped over to the table and squealed “Hey, y’all! Ith there anything I can geth you to duhhhh-RINK?”
Done. We explained who were were, probably for the first time telling the truth, and what were were doing, and about our scavenger hunt, and the radio station, and partying.
And Andy, our very gay waiter, posed holding up a big number one, smiling from ear to rear.
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