BACKSTORY (1958—Present): The program began in 1958, and was located near the Baby Station at the end of Main Street. The summer 1958 tour guide wore white skirts and sun hats with green blouses. The first spiel was adopted at this time. By winter, the costumes had changed to red leotards and plaid jumpers. 1959 saw a total of 29 females and 3 males in the guide role. Their first costume consisted of red pendleton jackets and blue skirts/pants. In 1961, the guides were moved next to City Hall.
In a 1965 "A World of Smiles" Disneyland Tour Guide booklet, CarlaDeVillez shared the experience of giving the first tour in September 1958 for the program founded by Tommy Walker:
I started my career as a Tour Guide in 1958, having been selected from the empoyees already working in the park. I was selling souvenirs in Guide Booth #1 when Larry Hutcheson (Hutch), asked me if I'd like to join this experimental program. It was not deinite at that time whether or not there'd be a guided tour of Disneyland, but Guest Relations wanted to experiment with the possibility. There were five of us asked from various jobs in the park. Donna Parrin, who you all know as #2 Hostess, Bep Jones, a ticket seller, Bill Skiles and Peter Henderson, two young comedians performing at Plaza Gardens, (better known now as Hub and Bub on the Mouse Mouse TV Show) and myself. Can you imagine Disneyland with only five guides? And boys, too!
We had meetings and meetings and meetings. We had eight weeks of training sessions. We learned about the park form stem to stern. We went out on our own and asked questions all around of the various foreman and supervisors. We had a horticultural tour. We had to ride all the rides. I remember one particularly interesting session. It was on a Monday or Tuseday when the park was closed. We all came in and Bob Reilly took us into Nature's Wonderland and we saw how the dyes were mixed with waters, we saw the various pumps on the Fantasyland side of the ride, and were instructed as to how the Caverns operated.
Then the big day arrived. Hutch said, "Come on, Carla, let's go out to the gate and get some guests to take the first guided tour." It was strictly complimentary. I was very nervous.
We approached two families who consented to give it a whirl. At this time we were using a kind of megaphone, or voice gun. It wasn't loud enough in a noisy place and was too loud in a quiet place. None the les, we had a gay tour. I was, of course, anxious to show off my vast knowledge of the Magic Kingdom, so I filled those poor folks full of facts and figures. I believe the tour took a little mroe than 3 1/2 hours. We didn't have the Monorail or Submarine in those days, but we did take the following rides: Train, Omnibus, Jungle, Mark Twain, Alice in Wonderland (or other ride in Fantasyland, it was left up to us), and the Moon Ride.
When I returned from that first tour, of course, everyone wanted to know all about it. We spent another week working out bugs and finally the tour ticket went on sale.
We planned for every possible incident in Guided Tours except one. We were drastically understaffed. That first day literally everyone took a tour. Tommy, Hutch, Secretaries, Managers, Directors, — anyone who set foot in City Hall took a guided tour.
Needless to say, we grew rapidly and today we are one of the most successful departments in the entire park.
From the Disney Dispatch website in an excellent article by Benson Myers:
If you've ever been to Disneyland, you have no doubt seen the Tour Guides working their way around the park, with a large gaggle of guests in tow. They wear distinctive plaid outfits, quite similar to the outfits worn by horse jockeys or polo players.
Among all the Cast Member roles at Disneyland, the Tour Guide is probably one of the most desired. But you might not realize that the role is also one of the most difficult to obtain, and one of the most demanding.
Origins of the Disneyland Tour Guide Program
The program got its start in late 1958, a few years after Disneyland opened. Walt Disney realized that many people got lost when they first came into the park. Disneyland was a revolutionary concept, and he decided that a guided tour of the park would be beneficial.
So to get a clear picture of why the program was started, I will take a page or two from the Tour Guide procedures manual that was issued back in the early 1960's:
Once upon a time at Disneyland, there was a single gate admission. Our guests paid their way in and then bought tickets for individual attractions. Shortly after opening, our audience research revealed that our guests would prefer some kind of package plan that would include both gate admission and certain attraction. Such was the birth of our famous ticket books which, over the years, have been redesigned to meet the needs of our guests.
As time went by, our continuing research indicated that there were many guests who were interested in having a guide to introduce them to our giant Disneyland stage. We found that these guests fell into several groups, a few of which are:
Those suffering from freeway fright ... we sometimes forget that a person from a small town in Texas or Canada finds our freeway system a thing of terror. By the time they make it to Disneyland through this cement maze, they want a friendly guide to take them through the Magic Kingdom.
Those who feel lost ... you'll get to know the 70 acres of our Disneyland stage intimately. But for many people it's huge and confusing.
Those from foreign lands ... we have many guests from foreign lands. Some can neither speak our language or read our signs. They are thankful to find a guest who can converse in their language.
That last bit provides us with an interesting side point. Disneyland today (as well as Walt Disney World) has an extensive program for Cast Members who speak multiple languages. After taking a test to prove their proficiency in the language, and mastery of the customs of guests who speak that language, Cast Members can earn a special nametag. It bears the name of the language on an extended tab at the bottom of the nametag.
Acting the Role
But let's get back on track. The physical appearance of a Tour Guide follows strict guidelines. The Tour Guide Manual says:
Your costume, created by our Disney artists and the Disneyland Wardrobe Department, was designed to fit the role that you play in our Disneyland Show. It's essential that you wear it as the designer planned it.
It's essential that you report to work in ample time to give the care and attention you need for your pre-curtain preparation. We take it for granted that you know the important essentials of good grooming and etiquette. But here, perhaps a reminder about eye shadow or eye liner is essential. When you are off stage, outside of Disneyland, you may handle your makeup as you please. But as a Tour Guide, you must have a wholesome, natural look, and this disallows eye shadow or eyeliner.
As you leave Wardrobe and depart for the Tour Garden, check every little detail. Your appearance depends on making sure that every detail is just right. Remember you're stage front ... and on stage.
Once a Tour Guide has their costume in place, and a proper appearance, it's not quite time to go. There's the matter of the script that the Tour Guide must follow.
The script is carefully constructed to present guests with an informative and entertaining experience on their tour. Depending on the number of guests, an average guided tour lasts around two hours. This requires a Tour Guide to master the script, which is some twenty-five full pages in length. And the Tour Guide is not allowed to improvise or in any way deviate from the script. This can be quite a challenge, since each tour group is unique. A Tour Guide must be able to always think on his or her toes, and adapt their presentation to the needs of the group, while following the official standards.
The Tour Guide Manual offers some pointers to make this a bit easier:
As your group blends together, the real fun and challenge for a Tour Guide is to build a group spirit as the tour progresses. Here are some timely tips for keeping your happy group happy:
• Your attitude is much more infectious than the common cold. It's impossible to hide boredom. You must have fun in your role, and express it.
• Use those eyes. Make regular eye contact with each of your guests during the tour.
• Encourage questions and share them. Be professionally personal. Mention a hometown; admire that child; comment about that camera. Try to make each member of your tour feel important.
• Never, never, ridicule a guest or make fun of any question. Also, in the never-never world of a Tour Guide, don't giggle, make up answers to questions, wear sunglasses, or stand in the shade while your group sweats in the sun.
• It's all right to point, unless the subject is Walt Disney. We must respect his need to travel the park without interruption.
• Know your inside information. One of the real plus values of a tour is to learn the details that the average 'man on the street' would not know. Know your facts, and share them.
Landing the Role
Being a guest wrangler, as Tour Guides are sometimes called, can be a difficult task. To make the task easier for the Tour Guides, guests receive a special badge to set them apart. In the first ten years or so, these were in the form of triangular hang tags. Different colors were given out on different days of the week. Colors included green, blue, yellow, orange, and black, and red.
So after all this, you can see that becoming a Tour Guide at Disneyland is no easy feat. First, you have to work your way into the position. Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, a Cast Member does not simply walk into City Hall and begin giving tours. They must first work at the park for six months to a year in another role, then earn a transfer into the Guest Relations Department. If they make it this far, they aren't a Tour Guide. They first have to 'earn their chops' by staffing the answers desk inside City Hall, or answering phone calls from guests. Then they can take a test to see if they have the professional ability to maintain the high standards required. Passing the test proves they have done so, and proves their mastery of the knowledge of all things Disneyland. With that mastery comes the coveted pin that Tour Guides wear to identify themselves.
The pins are hand-created works of art. For many years, they were made by the N.S. Meyer Company in New York. Plated in gold, the pin bears the likeness of Tinker Bell as she spreads pixie dust over Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. They are also not the personal property of the Tour Guide. The pins must be returned when a Tour Guide leaves the department or quits their job at Disneyland.
So now when you see a Tour Guide in their distinctive plaid costume, wearing the glittering D pin, you know what it took for them to get that role. They are the cream of the crop of the Disneyland cast, the "best of the best of the best", so to speak. The part of the Manual we read earlier, "it's all right to point, unless the subject is Walt Disney", really strikes a chord with me. I like to think that the Tour Guides, when they wear their D pins and lead guests around the park, are carrying Walt's spirit along with them.
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Here is the text from the Live Narration of a Guided Tour, circa 1962:
Welcome to Disneyland…my name is________ and I'll be your guide on your tour through the Magic Kingdom. We'll be visiting each of the four lands, ending our tour in Tomorrowland. If you have any questions about the park along the way, please feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer them for you. Also, if I'm walking too fast or not speaking loud enough, please tell me. Now, if you're all ready we're first going to board the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad for an exciting trip encircling the entire park.
MAIN STREET STATION (Waiting for Train)
Here you get a view of our parking area. We have 67 acres in the amusement area of the park and 100 more in this our parking area, which can accommodate more than 9000 cars and 40 busses. The helicopters you may see flying ovehread today offer daily flight service to and from the Los Angeles International Airport. The helicopter landing pad is adjacent to the Disneyland Hotel just across West Street. The elevated concrete beamway you see is a portion of the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail system which will be part of our tour a little later. Disneyland has many services with which you may not be familiar. Kennel-Land is located just to the right of the Main Gate as you enter. In this direction (point) is Town Square, where construction on Disneyland was first started, July 17, 1954. The Main Gate to Disneyland was opened exactly one year later. An impressive Retreat Ceremony takes place here in Town Square each evening with the Disneyland Band taking part. To date, the total population that is, the number of guests who have visited Disneyland, is over 32 million. Our record breaking day was July 4, 1959, when there were 59,845 guests in the park in one day. Across the street in this direction is our Bank of America, open for your convenience until 4 o'clock this afternoon. This bank is unique in that you may do your banking on Saturday, Sunday or Holidays…anytime the park is open. Just down Main Street we even have a cinema where six silent movies are shown continually. The large brick building across Town Square is Disneyland's City Hall. If you have any problems you may take them there, because we all know, City Hall has ALL the answers.
FRONTIERLAND TRAIN STATION
While our train is stopped, there are a few things I'd like to tell you about Disneyland. This was actually a 20 year dream of Walt Disney's…it took five years to design the park and one year to build: of course, Disneyland will never be completed. Walt has many plans for the future. For instance, the large area here is being transformed into a beautiful New Orleans section complete with a Thieves' Market, Mysterious Haunted House, and an authentic New Orleans Square. This new area, with all the flavor of quaint old New Orleans will be completed next summer. Across the Rivers of America is Tom Sawyer's Island. And (when applicable) in Fowler's Harbor (or) sailing past…is the proud Columbia, a duplicate of the first American sailing ship to travel around the world. (and/or) also sailing down the Rivers of Ameria is the Mark Twain Riverboat. Mike Fink's Keel Boats begin their trip around Tom Sawyer's Island from Fowler's Harbor located on this side of the river.
You may be interested to know that the Santa Fe Train we are on is a model of the old steam engines used at the turn of the century, rebuilt and constructed at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. There are three complete trains on our Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad and each train may make 13,500 round trips yearly accounting for over 15,500 miles. Entering the tunnel ahead we will soon view the highlight of our train trip, the beautiful Grand Canyon Diorama.
Main Street is patterned after a typical, small American town at the turn of the century. All of the business establishments on Main Street were in business at the turn of the century or are of the same type as those found then. The gaslights are authentic and were brought from cities as Philadelphia, Baltirmore and some older sections of Los Angeles. There are many interesting and unusual shops along Main Street I'm sure you'll want to visit later. You might also like to stop by Carefree Corner, the official information and registration center here in the park. They have a registration book from each of the 50 states. They will be happy to present you with a souvenir copy of the Declaration of Independence. Incidentally, if you are just a bit worn out at the end of your tour, remember to stop by the Upjohn Pharmacy for your free vitamin pills. As we walk up Main Street I will point out the many shops to you so you may visit them after the tour if you like. A small sign above the east tunnel entrance states: Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. Let's now go up Main Street U.S.A. for a look at the world of yesterday.
This is Adventureland. Although our smallest land, Adventureland is also one of the most exciting, with its exotic plants and flowers and gift shops featuring unusual imports from many tropic regions of the world. The unique big game shooting gallery offers to test the skill of all you big game hunters. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago this was all a large orange grove. Now, in this dangerous area of Adventureland head hunters and wild animals roam alongside the crocodile infested waters. So with the experienced guide of the jungle let's begin our journey down the dark and dangerous jungle rivers of the world.
Thanks to our couragious guide, we've all returned safely from our Jungle Cruise. You might be interested in knowing that the animal sounds in our jungle are actual recordings of true jungle sounds, with different sounds for both day and nighttime. In the evening hours the birds in Adventureland retire and the frogs and crickets awaken to provide a musical chorus to the night air. Here adjoining Adventureland is the new Tahitian Terrace. Adjoining the Terrace is Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, an outstanding Adventure in eating and entertainment.
BASE OF TREEHOUSE
Here is the Swiss Family Treehouse inspired by the Walt Disney film—Swiss Family Robinson. This is the largest treehouse inn the world standing 80' high. In its three lofty rooms, visitors gain an unparalleled view over the jungle area. The tree has 150,000 leaves and over 50,000 blossoms. For the botanical minded, the tree is known as species Disneydendron Giganteum. Now we're going to leave Adventureland for the frontier of the old west. Frontierland is a tribute to the faith, courage and ingenuity of the pioneers who blazed the trails across America. We find ourselves back in the exciting days when the story of our country's past was being lived.
NEAR MARK TWAIN DOCK
Across the river you see Tom Sawyer's Island…a mother's paradise. Here children may spend hours exploring old Fort Wilderess, rock caves and formations, suspension bridges and even go fishing. This island may be reached by taking one of Tom's rafts embarking from Fowler's Harbor. While we are here on the riverfront, I would like to mention that there are almost two miles of waterways in Disneyland, of which this river is a part. There are 81 vessels in the Disneyland fleet—these include the vessels you see here plus those in Adventureland, Storybookland, The Motor Boat Cruise, and the Submarine Lagoon.
(If not on Mine Train)
We are next going to take a trip on the…Mark Twain/Columbia.
Columbia…The Columbia is a three masted full-rigged sailing vessel. The ship has been copied after the original armed merchant vessel, Columbia, which we have already told you was the first United States' sailing vessel to circumnavigate the globe. This ship is 92' long and has a main mast of 84'.
Mark Twain…The Mark Twain is an authentic reproduction of the old Mark Twain paddle wheel steamer which operated on the Mississippi River. Powered by twin steam engines which operate the stern wheel, the Mark Twain is 108' long and has three decks. On weekends and holidays the Young Men from New Orleans, an authentic Dixieland Jazz Band, play for your dancing and listening pleasure as you float down the river. Inside Slue Foot Sue's Golden Horseshoe is one of the most popular attractions in Disneyland. The show has something for everyone. Plenty of good music, lots of laughs, the Can Can Girls and even that famous character—Pecos Bill. The show is one of the entertainment highlights here in the Magic Kingdom and we know you'll enjoy yourself. You should be here at least 30 minutes before show time in order to find good seats for this free show presented by Pepsi-Cola. Show times are posted on the front porch. And now, let's take a short cut through El Zocalo, the Mexican Market over to the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge.
This is Rainbow Ridge, gateway to newly discovered Nature's Wonderland. Here Walt Disney has recreated some of his famous True Life Adventure films. The scenes of these nature stories have been transformed into moving living characters here in Nature's Wonderland. In a moment we'll board a Mine Train for a trip into Beaver Valley and under the falls of Cascade Peak, on to Bear Country, the Great Living Desert and finally down into the beautiful Rainbow Caverns colord waterfalls. So if you're all set to see some of the wonders of nature—let's go.
You might be interested in knowing that the colored waterfalls are created through the use of fluorescent dyes in the water and black light. An elaborate pumping system circulates over 43,000 gallons of water per hour. And now we'll be leaving the old west and Frontierland. Our next stop will be out on the Central Plaza.
ON THE PLAZA
From the Central Plaza you may enter any of the four lands or Main Street. Adventureland and Frontierland we have visited, across the drawbridge and through Sleeping Beauty's Castle…Fantasyland. On the Opening Day of July 17, 1955, Walt Disney lowered the drawbridge over the moat so that children of all ages might return to the land of fantasy. Over here down the Avenue of Flags is Tomorrowland.
There are many comments on the landscaping here in Disneyland. Of course, we have many native plants in the park, but we also have specimen plants and trees and tropical plants from all over the wolrd. Our two acre nursery, just beyond Fantasyland, keeps the park supplied with over 500,000 new plants yearly, so that, through the four seasons there are always colorful flowers and trees in Disneyland. We have over 600 different plant species and an untold number of varieties. Now let's go across the drawbridge, through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and next visit Fantasyland - often called the Happiest Land of them all.
There are many exciting adventures here in Fantasyland for young and old alike. Our King Arthur Carrousel is the finest of its type in the world, with 72 hand carved steeds. The themes of the four dark adventures in Fantasyland each depict one of Walt's favorite pictures in a most exciting way. The Skyway, overhead, gives you a wonderful aerial view of the park and will take you through the Matterhorn mountain to Tomorrowland—or from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland.
We are now at the base of the Matterhorn mountain which is built to a 1/100th scale of the Swiss Matterhorn. This mountain you see here is the highest man made structure in Orange County. You probably noticed the bobsleds riding down the icy slopes of the Matterhorn and splashing through a glacier lake at the bottom. On weekends and holidays our two young mountain cliimbers, Hans and Otto, attempt to scale the mountain's trecherous slopes. Now let's step into the year 1986 when Halley's comet is due to return, and see what the future holds in the Land of Tomorrow.
Before we glide off on the Monorail train, I would like to call your attention to the Disneyland rocket ship behind us which will take you on an interesting and exciting simulated flight to the moon. The rocket is 80' high and was built at the Disney Studios in Burbank under the technical direction of Dr. Werner von Braun. This is a scale model of what an actual rocket to the moon might look like in the future. It is interesting to note that Dr. von Braun helped develop simulated space flight for Walt Disney before he worked on such activities for the United States Government.
Over there is the Autopia, the freeway of the future. These cars travel 850,000 miles each year! Each car has a four gallon gas tank that will run for 12 hours continuously wihtout refueling! Directly in front of us is the submarine ride. Here at Disneyland we have one of the world's largest submarine fleets, each named after one of the ships in the United States Atomic Powered Fleet. Here you may journey through the graveyard of sunken ships, under the polar ice cap, past the lost continent of Atlantis, and witness an underground volcanic eruption. Our submarine fleet travels approximately 20,000 miles each year. We are now going to have an itneresting experience on the first daily operating Monorail train in the Western Hemisphere—The Disneyland-Alweg Monorail system. These futuristic trains, electrically operated and each holding 102 passengers, are now in the planning stages for high speed urban transportation in several large cities throughout the United States. Our trip will take us along the 2.5 miles of elevated beamway to the Disneyland Hotel and back here to Tomorrowland for an exciting aerial view of the entire area. Please follow me as we take the ultramodern speedramp to the Monorail Landing…watch your step.
ART OF ANIMATION
Here is the Art of Animation where you will see the various stages in the development of animation from the beginning of time to the very present. This exhibit will give you an idea of how Mickey Mouse and the whole Walt Disney tradition was born. It takes three years to produce a full-length cartoon feature. Here Disney artists and characters alike combine to show you the technical processes necessary for such an undertaking. You will also have an opportunity to meet the latest Walt Disney character - Ludwig von Drake!
AVENUE OF FLAGS
Here at the entrance to Tomorrowland, is the Avenue of Flags. Lining the path are the Flags of our United States arranged in the order of their admittance to the Union. On each flag pole you will find the name of the state, the date it was admitted to the union and its motto.
Here is the "World Time Clock" provided by the Timex Corporation and designed by the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. This clock tells the time of day anywhere in the world at a moment's glance.
To the left of the Avenue of Flags you will find the Monsanto Home of the Future. This modern home features such elements as a television doorbell, ultrasonic dishwasher, and a microwave oven which cooks a potato in three minutes. The Home of the Future is one of the many walk-through exhibits in Disneyland which you can visit after the tour without charge.
The Bell Telephone Company invites you to see the latest innovations in telephone communications and also the Circarama film "America the Beautiful." This unique motion pictures is projected on a 360 degree screen completely surrounding the viewing audience. "America the Beautiful" offers a breathtaking sight-seeing experience of our great United States.
Now that we have completed our rounds, I would like to thank you for joining our tour and for being such a wonderful group. I have enjoyed showing you the Magic Kingdom and hop you enjoy the rest of your stay here in the park. Remember to use your extra ticket for any one attraction in the park and also try to make it back to Frontierland for the Golden Horseshoe Show. The last performance will be at __________. Disneyland will remain open until _____ this evening.
If you have any questions, anything I might help you with before we part I'll be happy to assist you.
I would like to leave you with this thought. We began our tour in Town Square. There at the base of the flagpole is the Disneyland dedication plaque which reads, "Disneyland is dedicated to the dreams, the ideals, and the hard facts that have created America with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world." We sinerely hope that through your tour today you have shared in a part of this spirit.