Kennel Service



Worldwide Studios offers a kennel service to guests who are traveling with their four-legged friends. Dogs are accommodated in air-conditioned, private cages that come complete with a boxed lunch. It’s definitely a better deal than we offer the humans who board our trams!

This dog condo is a popular area for guides to tune-up or take a hit of some fine herb prior boarding the Glamour Tram. I see that Stienbeck is my tour guide this morning as we each walks out of our opposing break-rooms upon being dispatched. “Stiener,” as he is affectionately called, winks and waves to me to follow him, which I do just like the new puppy I am here at Worldwide Studios.

He leads me to the kennel housing, and no sooner does he turn the door handle than a white dog bolts out the door. It had cunningly waited for this opportunity and took off like it had a tram to catch. So much for tuning-up before the tour–we have a buzz kill predicament!

Stiener runs to inform operations that we have a fugitive from the kennel. An open latch on the dog cage allowed this mutt all the leeway it needed. I say “Hi, Good Morning” to Iris as radio transmissions bombard dispatch’s airwaves. Iris laughs as heads spin and managers panic. This incident is breaking news at the theme park.

The message “Guest’s dog on tram route!” echoes through every vehicle that has a radio in the transportation fleet. Suit-and-tie managers flood the tour route in an effort the head off this dog. Every golf cart, van, and station-wagon is deployed to contain this incident. All kinds of incentives are offered for the return of “Fluffy.” A financial reward! A promotion! Exemption from layoffs! A movie role!

Operations is naturally in a total panic, as the dog risks being seen by its family, currently enjoying themselves aboard one of our trams. Steiner is given strict instructions: if we see the dog, don’t point it out while on the tour! If anything, he is to steer guests attention away from the dog should it happen to materialize. The tram day has just begun and we are already in the middle of a massive cover-up. Iris asks me to report any unusual K-9 activity on the route as Steiner and I begin the tour, withholding this secret from guests who think their dog is safe and secure .

This dog has a 470 acre park to explore…it could be anywhere!


Of course there’s a chance the dog will get tired and find its way back to the kennel. Operations has a few hours to resolve this problem, and no solution is beyond reason. A similar replacement dog would not even be out of the question–this this is Worldwide Studios and Theme Park.

The Columbia Ranch is the park featured in the above classic video… could this be Fluffy’s destination? This backlot located just a few blocks away?

We tram drivers and tour guides are not exactly trained for this situation. The backlot is very busy with production vehicles and tram activity so there is a real danger he could be run over. Parts of our wilderness areas have wild bobcats prowling on the loose so it could also end up as a meal for some big stray cat.

Stienbeck gives his tour as usual, facing the audience, but is continually peering over his shoulder in search of Fluffy while being ever so nonchalant. Heaven forbid, poor Fluffy ends up in the Evil Cylon Craft animation, where it will surely want to die. Or maybe it’s hiding in the spinning tube, the on that only rotates with a tram inside, where it will have to overcome vertigo to escape. Worse still would be for him get caught in the flash flood animation. This wild torrent of filthy water could easily steer the pooch into any of a dozen obstructions in the quaint Mexican village. All of these frightening options are on my mind as we slowly move forward, pretending all is well.

Suddenly over the radio we hear that security has spotted a dog running by a guard shack near the wardrobe facility on our tour. It has successfully gotten past the fence and into the massive parking lot that, at this time of day, is almost as busy as the 101 freeway.

It’s a real “Keystone Cops” moment: security guards, animal trainers, managers on golf carts, and crowd controllers dressed in orange vests all flood this central area. Even the Highway Patrol gets involved, blocking the entrance to the freeway on ramp, and a police helicopter is soon hovering above Z-lot. This entire network of professionals has been put into action while the dog’s family calmly relaxes aboard a Glamour Tram.

My tram is returning from a just-completed tour and we drive by the gate where the dog escaped. I have to hand it to Fluffy, he is making a mockery of our operation. I see a future in show-business provided this dog is never reunited with his owners. But finally, the tired and worn-out Fluffy is apprehended, willingly escorted back to the property in Kyle’s shuttle van and returned to solitary confinement. Since he can’t talk, no one will ever know this happened… except us!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…








Jingle Bells and Candy Canes


World Wide Studios and Theme Park is home of the Glamour Tram. It’s the most popular motorized people mover in the Galaxy. The park at night looks like some kind of expensive LSD trip…


Darkness comes early in December, yet we are barely half-way through our work day when the sun sets. Many famous streets and homes on the tour can barely be seen. Guests twist and turn in their seats looking for some landmark or reference point as tour guides bullshit their way through these night tours.

“That silhouette over there is the ‘Munster’ house. On the opposite side is the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ home”.

The crowds tend to change as it gets darker and the evening develops. The smell of alcohol swirls around myself and my young tour guide Ms. Caine, a.k.a. “Candy.”

This is my first tour with Candy, whose name couldn’t be more perfect for the season. She has another job after she leaves work here–she’s a stripper! Her joint is a club just off the Hollywood freeway, not far from the World Wide theme park.


If you enjoy her X-mas tour, you’re going to love her X-mas show. She strips out of an elf costume to help out Santa Clause…nightly!

I notice a lot of things about Candy as we drive around the lot in the dark. She may climb on a copper pole at her other job, but here, with mic in hand, she likes to wrap her leg around the silver pole right in front of where she sits. It’s pretty sexy, and very unlike any other of the 6 tours I’ve already done today.

The way she delivers her tour information, however, lacks a certain enthusiasm. It’s like her body is here, but her mind is somewhere else. I have to admit, when I’m around her, my mind isn’t much on the tour either!

I wonder if anyone on board will have an opportunity later tonight to see more, if not all of Ms. Caine. After all, ’tis the season!

This group we’re currently driving around is acting a bit raunchy, constantly interacting with us in the front tram car, a.k.a. the power unit. You can tell when a tour group has been self-medicating with alcohol. Everyone seems tuned-up for today’s Glamour Tram experience.

Candy Caine opens her tours the same exact way every time…

It’s like I’m the designated driver for 125 drunkenly stoned knuckleheads. I’m realizing night tours are much more my speed. Strippers, alcohol and drugs–it’s a theme park for adults.

Leave the kids at the hotel! They can play in Telly Savalas’ limo! And speaking of Telly, I think he’d really enjoy this particular tour. I’m confident he knows Ms. Caine already, as she’s a regular at his bar on Hotel Hill. We’re one big dysfunctional family here at World Wide Studios/theme park!

As the tour progresses, it occurs to me that the night tours might permit the inclusion of some extra perks that wouldn’t fit the more family-oriented, daytime crowd. How can I go the extra mile, I’m wondering, for the more fun-loving, nocturnal visitors?

I can only come up with dirty answers to this question, but what would you expect in such a derelict atmosphere? All I can do is  look at Candy, who really should be called “Eye Candy!”

I try, nevertheless, to focus on my job. Each animation can be quirked beyond the way Dennis taught his class of drivers two months ago. The Perilous Bridge, for instance. If you time the bridge collapsing correctly while increasing the trams throttle, your stomach will flutter as the tram drops two feet. Guests scream! Some even drop personal items.

I like to think the job is more “stunt driver” than anything else. I provide sensations… driving sensations!

Over the course of the tour Candy and I begin to bond, each of us trying to have as much fun as possible. We even hear some guests remark “You guys get paid to do this!?”

Candy sounds a little dejected when when she replies, “He gets paid much more than I do!” Clearly she doesn’t know that being Captain of the longest, gas-powered people mover on Earth is a tremendous responsibility. “Safety with a smile” is our creed, and it’s strategically posted above the break room to remind us.

Next stop on the tour is the Black Lagoon. It’s so dark, Candy can’t be seen, but she tries her best to build up suspense through her spiel.  The foul chemicals in the water linger in the air as we hastily leave this area, tram wheels spinning wildly as each car struggles its way out of the draining basin. This is where the water gets pumped out and refilled for the next unsuspecting tram-ful of guests. No surprise: it smells like a toilet! Now you know why it’s called the Black Lagoon!

Next up is the shark attack animation. More than any other, this seems to be the one best enjoyed with an ice cold alcoholic beverage in hand. And as it turns out…

…this is even scarier in the dark!


My passengers warm up as soon they hear the familiar soundtrack from “Jaws”, anticipating the attack of an animatronic Great White. This big fish has been swimming in the pond that doubles for Cabot Cove, Maine for over a decade, and he’s still the favorite creature in this town.

After the final shark-induced screams have died down, the animation resets for the next unsuspecting tram–the dock straightens back up, the fishing boat with the poor fisherman resurfaces, and the shark sinks below the surface of the pond.

This animation is great when sober, but truly wild when witnessed from a tram that feels more like a traveling bar. We exit by way of a long and winding road, passing more famous houses in the dark.

Candy continues her spiel as if this were a normal, daytime crowd. She doesn’t seem to pick up on everyone else’s party vibe. Maybe needs a drink or something? More energy, in any case. The passengers are ready to cut loose, and the single guys on board are giving her their full attention.

The last animation the Glamour Tram can serves up is the Revolving Tube. It starts off very slowly as we pull into this large, spiraling tube to the sound of wolves howling and Arctic winds.

I have been practicing my own signature “tubing” method for this. I park the tram, knowing that the spinning will not stop until I exit.It’s disorienting at first, the constant spinning, but after a hundred rotations or so the passengers get used to it, find their bearings.

It’s at that point, as soon as I see a comfort level setting in on my guests faces, that I tweak everything. Against company rules, I start by backing up the Glamour Tram.

No driver tries this but me. It’s considered a nigh impossible maneuver, but there are rails just in case the driver gets caught up in his own spin. These keep the trailers straight and prevent the jack-knife effect that worries the management so. They may not know how to drive these things, but I do!

Candy has not seen a tram driver execute these moves before, and she’s wondering what I’m up to. I think she’s finally starting to loosen up!  She winks and smiles and whispers to me “pretty cool!”

I keep backing up to the sound of screams before speeding forward. I stop once more, back up still again, then race out the exit door.

Guests do everything from cheering to vomiting. Some hang over the side, some are laying on others’ laps, and a good many treat me to loud applause as we get back out into the moon-lit sky on our way back to where this Glamour Tram Tour began.

Written and lived by Donnie Norden






Tiz the Season

A Winter Wonderland has been fabricated all around the Glamour Tram tour rout…Fake snow, fake trees, fake smiles, and fake dreams are just part the delusions created at World Wide.


Our guests are greeted with magic, music, and imagination.The BEST minimum wage can buy!…

Just keep following the endless sea of orange parking cones and kids in strollers until you reach the the cloud of bus exhaust. You have arrived at the newly decorated entry.

Our iconic spinning globe will guide you like a hypnosis session. ATM machines endlessly pump out paper money below the Glory to God flashing sign. These machines are lit up like slot machines to make spending look fun.Whistling sounds and bells complete your transaction.

Your almost inside now and look at all the fun you have already experienced, it was worth that small loan on the house to make this trek. “I bet your thirsty?…due to the bus exhaust and long walk.”

Don’t fret, Cups as big as gas cans offer sugar indulgements to carry you to the next stop..  A- Mr. T  reflector action cup from the A Team hit TV show is popular. Don’t be a fool and pass this up…sucker!

Red Lights flash:Warning… Money required beyond this point! 

Your now cordially welcomed inside our home for X-mas…




Telly Savalas is (Kojack)…around here

On other fronts…

We had a Christmas get together last night at Telly’s Bar. A few guides, a couple drivers and some characters. Frankenstein and The Wolfman like to party…as does Santa Clause. Poor Santa hits the sauce hard, his name is Chris, like Kris Kringle.

But it’s the tour guides that stand out in this glitzy saloon. Many guides try to meet and rub elbows with dignitaries, musicians and TV and movie stars. They let there hair down and leave some buttons opened. After a long day of tramming, drivers- guides and some operations staff-cool off with cocktails.

I see Telly Savalas in a limo all the time when I do the shuttle service up here. I’ve yet to meet him.

My favorite movies are the Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. This guy is to a tank what Fred Astaire is to a dance floor. Cigars, goggles, sweat and attitude-he is cut out for war. The back and forth between tank drivers Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas is classic.


The strange thing is, he drives it, he is not being chauferred. It’s him and his distinguishable large head that I see parked in unusual places around this hotel.

Tour guides have mentioned that Telly has been know to invite select females to his Penthouse. Can’t blame him for that, I like him more already.

Dick is driving the hotel shuttle as I briefly try to chat. The man can’t hear from all the machine gunning he did in Viet Nam. I wish him “Good Luck” as he takes off with a group of Chineese hotel guests. Good thing he doesn’t have a 50 caliber machine gun on this shuttle right now…

Back inside Telly’s bar, it’s packed wall to wall with festive holiday travelers and burned out, worn out World Wide employees.

Driver Kyle lives close and has returned to the facility to frolick with whoever will listen to his attempts to be comedic personality. You will be rewarded for your patience with your name spelled out with white lines on a mirror. Kyle is like a care-giver or lot medic if you wish. Popular and apparently necessary best desrcibes-him!

Today, Iris and I breakdown last nights Laker game vs Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He loves sports and I am the (guy) for that scope of dialouge.

It seems that Iris is taking care of me. I seem to be most liked and favored driver graduate by the most disliked employee on this lot. I do not share the hate that encompasses the driver breakroom. Iris and I our becoming good sports pals, and the benefits that lay ahead  due to this new friendship are bountiful…I’m soon to find out!

For now, Iris smiles and points… Tram on the right, please-Mr Donnie 

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…




White Christmas…



Christmas will soon be upon us at the World Wide theme park, and what better way to spend it than with 20,000-plus entertainment-craving, fanatic tourists?

My fellow graduates and I are about to get a taste of theme park insanity. We’ve been told what to expect, but seeing is believing.

As tour guests arrive they’re greeted by long lines. First there’s one to park your car, then another for the Glamour Tram parking-lot shuttle. Of course, the shuttle drops you off at the longest line of them all: the turnstiles.

There are plenty of ATM machines offering the opportunity to refill wallets and pocket books. There are also large Christmas trees with over-sized, decorative bulbs glistening in the morning sun. It’s all meant to put the the guests in the mood to spend, spend, spend.

Youngsters approaching the ticket booths are mesmerized by the presence of superheroes and supervillains. They’ve bought in already, but it’s the parents who still have to pay.

Whatever this costs…it’s worth it!

Christmas, a.k.a., “Winter Break,”  is a month-long party event in World Wide’s eyes.

The Happiest Place in the San Fernando valley!


The studio’s resident Santa Claus is not above suggesting gifts from the World Wide shopping center to children. I saw this Santa getting out of Kyle’s shuttle van once, and I believe he might have been self-medicating.  Employees just want to have fun!

Night tours run through the entire month, and I’ll soon find out what Glamour Tram night touring is all about. We open at 8am, and we don’t close until everyone has gotten to ride.

The drivers’ break room is decorated with a string of colored lights and a dried up Christmas tree, compliments the management! I just hope the tree doesn’t catch fire is all. It’s in the back corner by the poker table, where a lot of cigarette smoking, laughing, cussing, and bitching goes on. The star on top the tree is tarnished by smoke and barely visible. Just like a typical smoggy day in L.A., but the festiveness keeps the troop morale high.

Speaking of high, most the drivers seem to be on “medication” of some sort. The group of drivers that hates Iris favor anxiety medication and smoke heavily. Driver Kyle enjoys and delivers snow…by the gram. He drives a van all day in circles around the studio, like some kind of drifter. The energy level in his shuttle is intoxicating. Amped-up employees line up, wearing uniforms and/or costumes and get shuttled inside this white powdered ride…

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Employees exit the van happier than when they got in, and Kyle’s a very generous man. Mood swings often take place for those who’re in for a long day. This shuttle definitely has a wild side, and I quickly notice a pattern: Kyle likes to touch me when I ride shot-gun. He makes no bones about it, he wants to F*@k me, so I learn to sit in the backseat!

Kyle listens to Rick Dee’s deejaying on the van’s radio. Huey Lewis comes on, singing “I want a new drug…”

 Even Frankenstein gets shit faced here… yet no one can tell.


Back at the break room, I’m tuned up and ready when the speaker on the wall calls out my name. “Oh Donnie! Tram on the right!” Iris commands affectionately.

Viktor and Tilda take deep drags off their fags, happy they didn’t get called and hoping they never do. As the speaker cuts out, a short delay is followed by a “F.U. Iris!” This is not the exception, but the rule.

I like Iris though.  We talk sports every morning when I clock in. I look forward to having deeper conversations with him as time goes forward. He can, if he wants, make your day very exceptional since he controls the entire deck of cards.

I hop aboard an already fully-loaded Glamour Tram: number 713. I’m greeted by smiling customers and a voluptuous tour guide I’ve never met before.

Her name is Berlin. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?


Of course this is a German Tour, I quickly find out. I’m lost in translation by the first turn of the steering wheel. That said, I’m infatuated with Ms. Berlin. Dark skin, well-endowed, a mature presence and an expert with the mic!

I don’t understand a thing being said, but I’m having a blast. I stare up and down at this lovely lady sitting next to me in the Galactic Encounter as evil Cylons fire their laser guns. Beams of colored lights playfully dance and reflect off Ms Berlin’s face, like at some Galactic strip joint.

Germans seem to enjoy a good gun battle. Unfortunately, it’s too loud inside this space ship for all the questions I’d like to ask Ms. Berlin. I think to myself, “She has to be an actress, or model or stripper or. . . maybe all three?

I’ll have to wait til next time to learn more. As we pull into the Robert Wagner wax figure experience, I have to say “Auf Wiedersehen” to my first foreign group ever!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page16
Read the Glamour Plane story just posted on Phantomofthebacklots blog…Rock stars and their mile-high life style. 











It is a subject I never thought about very much: tourism.

Of course I’ve been a tourist–who hasn’t?

This studio theme park attracts guests by the boatload. An average day sees about 10,000 visitors here at World Wide. We were hired to handle this many tourists and more. Twelve or so drivers get staffed on normal days, but the number can hit thirty during the peak season.

And peak season is exactly what we’re trained for. Senior drivers typically dislike it, as it obliges them to brush up on their tram driving skills. These guys rarely get behind the wheel of a Glamour Tram except during the busy season.

This place is like the United Nations. Every skin color, culture, vocabulary, size and shape walk through these front gates withWord Wide” emblazoned on them.


I quickly learn when tourism season hits home here in Los Angeles. We are gearing up for the Christmas Holiday Season. Even a small bump in attendance can cause an overflow, which leads to the speedy adoption of a “pack ’em in anywhere” mentality!

Understand, World Wide has no limits on accepting money from strangers. The only limit we have is not having a limit, which creates a hectic environment.

In anticipation of the Christmas rush, we will expand our fleet to handle the full complement of tour goers. All the trams whose engines will turn over get their seat cushions disinfected. After brief tram safety check, we line them up to be loading, a situation not unlike traffic on the 405 freeway.

Everybody that buys a ticket gets a ride!

Female guests are preferred by the almost all the drivers. Blondes, brunettes, red-heads. Persian, Spanish, Swedish, German, Russian, Chinese and Japanese show up in droves during the holidays. Our foreign female guests have a cute way about them.They’re all big smiles and broken English, here to see celebrities and experience movie magic.

But drivers beware! You will hear the same questions asked over and over, albeit in different languages. At least foreign tourists don’t bring the truckload of kids that the bible belt patrons do. For these types, seeing Hollywood is a big event! I expect most have never even seen the Pacific Ocean.

Tour buses start the morning off by the dozens. Drivers dump off their groups at the turnstile and let their engines idle all day while they enjoying their air conditioning. Naturally, a foul odor of diesel fumes clouds over this section of the World Wide parking lot. The tour groups that exit these buses are given specific T-shirts to facilitate a quick and easy round-up.

It’s worth noting that tourism includes not just World Wide, but all the usual Hollywood locations: Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the Wax Actors Museum, Venice beach, et al. Our shuttle drivers regularly get asked for personal recommendations on the hip things to do!    

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten a taste of what to expect. You hit the ground running on this job!

I have different answers for different faces, especially faces I wouldn’t mind hooking up with. Since I live in a rent-stabilized place  Santa Monica with an ocean view, I’m a big proponent of guests visiting the beach. I answer question after question, usually cutting to the chase since, after all, I’m on a schedule!

I feel like I’m most like a Swiss Army Knife. I have a tool for almost every situation! Some guests, especially in the evening after some drinking has occurred, will do anything for a behind the scenes, up close and personal “Donnie tour!”

I’m quickly adapting to my new occupation!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 15

The Music Theater

L.A. has many iconic music venues: The Hollywood Bowl, The Forum, The Troubadour, and last but not least, The World Wide Amphitheater.

The world’s top artists perform in this arena, known for its red carpets, colored lighting, and exemplary acoustics. Guests have to pay a separate admission for performances, but the Glamour Tram eases by the backside as the various acts load in.

Many tour guests begin drooling when they get a close-up look at the bands popping in and out of their fancy tour buses parked outside. The backstage area is regularly packed with roadies, groupies, and celebrities….

Of course, drivers are needed for this whole operation, especially to ferry the artists around and take care of their needs. We have one driver who’s always assigned to this gig, Chuck, who also doubles as a fork-lift operator. If a show needs it, a Teamster will get it!

Elton John will be coming in for a three-night stint soon and there’s already excitement in the air. Satellite equipment and production trucks are fighting for parking and tents pop up everywhere except on our Glamour Tram route.


Elton…needless to say, above.

Chuck’s job is the one I want. No uniform, just shorts, flip flops, and a brush for his long thick hair. He answers only to the Music Theater, not Iris, which I think is pretty cool. He writes his own meal ticket…

I meet him one morning while checking out my Glamour Tram. “Chuck, meet Donnie!” says the garage mechanic. He looks a bit drowsy, having been here 18 hours straight, but he’s as friendly as a Teamster can be.

I’ve heard so much about him from other drivers, I feel like I already know him. We hit it off as soon as he learns of my nice beach address and we start talking scuba diving.

Rock stars, lobsters, and sharks make for a lively discussion, and it’s clear he knows a lot of secrets around this lot. He’s been here forever, it seems, and he promises me a backstage pass sometime soon! Today, however, he needs to get some rest, and I need to return my Glamour Tram to dispatch, so Chuck and I say, “Farewell.”

Interaction between tourists and tour guides begins before the driver’s arrival, so there’s already a certain kind of energy in the air by the time I climb aboard. They cheer me as I shut the door. My tour guide, Paul, introduces me, and begins his spiel.

As we pass by the backstage area, Paul informs the guests that “This activity is for Elton John. His show opens tonight!” Even though this is only our first tour, Paul seems like a very nice chap. I’m still a puppy taking it all in. I still cant believe I got this job by answering an add in the newspaper.

At the Robert Wagner stage, tour guide Donna replaces Paul. I haven’t met her yet, but she seems like a lot of fun, and she easily holds the group in the palm of her hand. As we tour the backlot, we establish a pretty good vibe. She’s better than a double espresso, and I can already tell she’s going to be a super trooper to tour with.

I’ll have to wait to get to know her better, but I’m looking forward to it!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 14

Shuttle Service

Inside this spiraling complex exists virtually every form of entertainment and relaxation. Two large 5 star hotels tower over the park with views stretching to the distant mountains.


Tucked below and in-between these mega-plexes are the fancy eateries and bars. The crowds here like to party and generally don’t have their kids in tow. Tour employees often refresh and unwind after a long day on the road at one of four whistle-stops on the shuttle route.

Telly’s Bar, Whompoppers, Victoria Station, and The Hilton all wait, doors wide open, for that next shuttle bus to unload. Naturally, Teamsters control this racket also.

These shuttles are basically plush vans, but there are also open-air “clown wagons” that can hold about 30 people. It’s like a tour bus you might see on Hollywood Blvd.

“Shuttle service in the morning is much different than at night,” says Homo, a senior driver and full-time playboy. He often volunteers for this job, despite its monotony, in order to focus on the the lonely vixens that hop on looking for adventure. He’s essentially a wolf, and this hill is his hunting ground.

Iris wants me to ride along with Homo so as to become more familiar with the route. Homo looks like Robert Redford and the Marlboro man combined. We hit it off, although his deep eye stare makes me wonder if I’m not being looked at as a piece of prime rib.

He knows everybody that works here and even some who stayed just a couple of nights. He’s kissed and hugged repeatedly at every restaurant and hotel shuttle stop. Women ride this “free love” train over and over, I’m told, just to smooch with Homo.

I don’t know how one man can process all this flirtation and temptation. Homo starts work early so he can be free to roam at night. The shuttles run until the bars close, so other drivers get to share in this loosey goosey environment.

“The later it get’s…the looser it gets” quotes Homo.

Women often look like models from around the world and frolick about from bar-to bar. Usually, hanging on with one hand to a safety pole and the other grabbing the driver…somewhere.

No tour guides ride these shuttles other than for a lift. The driver sometimes is the entire show…

Homo has assisted many an inebriated guest back up to there hotel room. Now that’s sevice!

Really, what I’m being taught goes beyond words. As Homo keeps touching me sporadically, I’m reminded, “this job is as much about feelings as it is about driving.”

Just in the hour I have been driving with Homo on the shuttle rout, we have broke out our Dutch vocabulary with three pretty Belgium girls. Quickly, we shift to needed Japaneese/ Americana on our next pick up-delivery.

These girls are so sweet, they’re just looking to have fun in a foreign land.We sometimes are the first friendly faces they see as they stumble out of the hotels in the daytime… Or sometimes, the last face they see as we carry them to the elevator at night.

This hilltop is rated hot, hotter, and hottest. Hottest… being when the Music Theater has a concert competeing for space in the congested center of the universe.

World Wide can’t process the cash fast enough. Shuttles get stuck in the traffic grid itself.

Beautiful women, perfume, cigerette odor, alcohol, fancy threads, crazy hairdoo’s… a Mardi Grah atmosphere. everynight.

With the help of my teacher, mentor, and friend… (Homo), have learned another piece of the giant studio/theme park property. This park works most fluid and efficiently with the right operator on the right apparatus.

Personality will go a long way in this…the party area, of World Wide Entertainment.

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 13   


Tram on the Right…

After completeing my inaugural Glamour Tram excursion, this time with trailers filled with humans, I run inside the drivers breakroom. A mixed bag of nuts waits inside.

A card game is taking place in the corner of this trailer we all call home. A thick cloud of cigarette smoke hovers above a pile of cash, as drivers shout, “I’ll Raise ya!”

These are the cool group to be in… it appears. They sure are having fun, anyways. Others appear dejected or mad, as certain people are paired off.

Everyone seems to need or is on some medication.

Viktor and Tilda are taking long, deep drags from their fags. They seem discontented, as if they hate being here. Isolated in the part of the trailer that resembles a complaint department. Iris is the subject of contention.

Dick, my class mate, just took his first tour, and Ted, my actor buddy, is out on a shuttle bus. We have indicative duties and tasks related to the different fleet operation tasks. We do much more than operate Glamour trams….

Outside the breakroom, alone as always, is Professor John. He tucks himself away from the noise and smoke that permeates inside and reads books like War and Peace…outside. He prefers the smog we call L.A.

I mingle and meet these tour veterans like I’m at some cocktail party. The Guides have their own trailer to dress and relax. We normally only interact on trams… and in bars! That would be after the L.T.D leaves dispatch…Last tram of the day!

Suddenly, from the notorius speaker on the wall…

Viktor gets called “Viktor, tram on the left, sir”

Iris sounded nice to me on these two requests to both of us.

“Donnie-tram on the right”

As I walk towards our trams with my Russian colleague, he smokes and cusses as long as he can, right before greeting the guests. “I want to kill that M.. F er!” Viktor fumes.

“He’s trying to F’ with me” Viktor continues on as he flicks his cigerette butt on to the pavement, in anger.

Iris sounded pretty nice to me anyway… I’m not sure why Vik and Tilda hate him?

I climb in my power unit and face 125 happy faces and one prune looking face. That face belongs to Austin, he is our tour guide. Unlike Laurie before, Austin ignores me.

He has an attitude going on, I can tell already…

I’m the only happy employee, besides Iris, in this area… Austin should be paired with Viktor…on a Glamour Tram tour from hell.

Lots of quietness as we begin our tour, just my trams engine. But I see a bunch of happy kid’s faces in my mirrors. All wearing orange T-shirts identifying some specific day camp. They can’t wait for their energy to be matched by our tour guide.

Austin sits quietly, disengaged from this entire tram. I feel like taking his microphone from him. Proceeding all the way to the Gallactic Encounter animation, only the mandatory safety rules have been spoken. Austin is ignoring everyone.

He acts as if he is to dignified to talk to children, as they pop – bubble gum bubbles on their lips. The kids stare back, blankly at Austin with his British look and demeanor. Don’t tread on me… is the mood in this unit right now.

The kids and I enjoyed our short little tour. I trade them in now for another group ready to leave… the Robert Wagner wax and audio experience complex.

Well lucky me, little Laurie is headed my way with another tour group. I’m about to do the long, second half of the guided tram tour, with living guests, not mannequins. I will rely on and apply all of Dennis’s personalized tutorlidge on Glamour Trams.

I shout “Watch your arms and legs” to each car as I safely close each tram gate. I remember to remove my wheel chock so we can safely move forward.

Laurie repeats the safety rules as the energy level rachett’s up as we head towards the tightly packed property wearhouse. Laurie has been on my mind since our first tour group drop off this morning.

Now I get to see her entire catalouge on display. She is what I expected a World Wide tour guide to be.

Cute, energetic, perky, and professional. Laurie has a gift to gab and is also wonderful  eye candy to boot. She is also informative…kids and adults appreciate her smooth style.

We finish my first complete tour ever with a large round of applause, for Ms. Laurie and myself. In our very brief time, we have started developing Glamour Tram chemistry.

As we wink and say our initial (Good- by’s)… I kind hope it carries over soon to a… Glamour Tram night! 

Written and lived by Donnie Norden… page 12









Lights, camera… action!

It’s time to be fitted for my uniform. Teamsters on movie sets wear whatever they like, and often they like to wear very little. Teamsters at the theme parks, however, are forced to wear a uniform you’d expect to see on a soda jerk: polyester black pants paired with a red shirt-trimmed in black.

The outfit barely breaths. Polyester actually magnifies the suns rays. The only upside is that we get a cool silver jacket styled after the one Burt Reynolds wears in “Smokey and the Bandit.” The only difference is ours feature the World Wide logo emblazoned on the sleeves. Show Teamsters tend to laugh at us because, well, we look like dorks! But it’s a living!

After picking up my costume from wardrobe, I’m shuttled back to tram dispatch to meet Iris, the lead dispatcher. We have a brief, friendly exchange that makes me think we’re going to get along. He’s all smiles as he says, “Go get suited up next door, your up soon!”

“Super!” I say, fairly pleased to be friends with someone most everyone else here dislikes.

I head to the locker room and am surprised to find it’s a unisex facility. My locker is next to Tricia’s, who’s pulling off her leather boots as I fuss with the combination on my locker. Tricia’s talking to another woman in uniform, Tilda, and I introduce myself to them both.

In walks Hollywood Don, which immediately makes me feel more comfortable now that we’ve got gender parity in the locker room. As we all finish buttoning up, I hear my name over the loudspeaker. It’s Iris requesting that I go out as soon as I’m ready. It’s almost as if he’s been watching us, because he summons Don next. Tilda and Tricia scatter as Don and I head to break-room to consult the map of the tram route.

A set of commands blares from various speakers. “Veteran Don, tram on the left! Rookie Don, tram on the right! You two look like twins, by the way!” Iris says with a laugh.

Iris sounds enthused at having  some new horses in his stable. Hollywood Don also likes Iris. I think he’s going to be a pretty easy guy to get along with, and I’m glad we’re in this together.

With no shortage of pride, the two of us walk out of the break-room and into the slanting, morning sunlight where our loaded and waiting Glamour Trams are parked side by side.

Once on my tram, I meet Laurie, who’ll be my first tour guide ever. I shake her hand in front of 125 tourists as she introduces me as “Don, our driver.” I hear the same thing happening on Veteran Don’s tram a few feet away.

Some guests immediately notice the similarity between the two Dons. “You two drivers look like twins. And you have the same names!”

And so we begin, two Glamour Trams with two drivers named Don. I’m grateful to have the veteran Laurie as my studio guide. I can’t help but notice how attractive she is. Over on the other tram, Hollywood Don has a veteran guide named Ross who speaks in a relentless monotone.

Beachboy Donnie and hot little Laurie follow in behind Hollywood Donnie and Ross as the trams get underway.

I distance my tram from his as we start off, knowing I’ll have to wait for his to experience the “Galactic Encounter.”

Safety rules are spooled out by Ms. Laurie as I cruise ahead slowly. Laurie is a polished professional. I watch with admiration as her hatted profile speaks softly and alluringly into her microphone as I tug on my genie.

We’re just killing time, waiting for our cue from a traffic signal hidden in a bush.

The green light appears and we enter the menacing space ship. I watch the chaos of an intergalactic space battle, pausing occasionally to glance at Laura’s face. She’s a looker. It’s no wonder these space men are shootng their rays guns so excitedly. I imagine it’s all a feeble attempt to win my guide over before we disappear under a cloud of liquid nitrogen.

“Let’s get out of here!” Laurie shouts.

No sooner are we out of the fog than we’re confronted by a mansion that bursts into flames. The firemen are nearby, waxing their trucks, and everyone waves to one another like old friends.

I pull my Glamour Tram alongside Hollywood Don’s after I’ve lost Laurie to the Robert Wagner experience. We briefly chat as we close the gates on our vehicles. We have no other guests ready for departure since it’s still early, so we’re obliged to make the long drive back to dispatch, our trams empty and guide-less. Hollywood Don and I make a race out of it.

I can still smell Ms. Laurie’s perfume lingering on the air.

My next tour will be a complete tram route escapade, but this one was the first of a thousand to come. . .

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 11








The Spinning Tube

At the top of the backlot is the last of the tram animations: The Spinning Tube. If you’re feeling sick, beware of this ride. Me and my mannequins, however, are up to the challenge!

My fellow student drivers and I listen closely as our instructor, Dennis, shares his expertise in accessing the tube. He must have been “tube spinning” for years I imagine–he probably dreams about it.

We park at the entrance to the Spinning Tube and exit the Glamour Tram. Dennis takes us on foot through this slippery tunnel where the walls look as if they’re completely made of ice.


But it’s not the ice that makes the tunnel slippery. Rather, hydraulic oil leaks create the unstable walking surface. Once Dennis has walked us through the space, the next step is driving through, but only with the animation turned off. At first glance it doesn’t look that hard–just a simple road through a tunnel–and I’m feeling pretty confident about it.



After our dry run, we’re now ready to navigate the tunnel with the tube animation turned on. As with all the other animations, we trigger it by way of a tiny garage-door-opening genie. The detonator box is hidden in a snow bank.

I’m the first student to attempt this part, and my tram and I are ready to go. A light signals us proceed, and Dennis watches my every move from the guide’s seat.


The spinning tube begins to spin my brain in circles!




I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel until–oh shit!–I realize it’s just a mirror! Are we going to crash?

Not a moment later, the mirror parts and the tram exits into the bright, mid-day sunlight. “Fine Job!” says Dennis.

This tends to be where drivers receive the most esteem. The tour guides butter you up with flattery while the tourists (who aren’t vomiting!) applaud.


The young man above looks ready to blow…

My mannequins appear to have enjoyed this immensely!

Free mannequin Stock Photo -

Mastering the tube is the last part of the Glamour Tram training course. Afterward, each of us is presented with a “certificate of proficiency” in safe handling and operation of a Hollywood Glamour Tram.

This is a big moment for me. I’m officially part of a team now. The few, the proud, the Glamour Tram driver!

Wriiten and lived by Donnie Norden…page 11

The Shark Attack… Experience

Just up the road from the Ghost Train exhibit is a tiny seaside town, who’s only inhabitant is a Great White Shark.


A dock allows the Glamour Tram to ease right along side this quaint New England harbor set. A fishing boat is all that one can see as we line-up to practice negotiating this popular exhibit.

According to Dennis: “The plan here is to have each and every tram car be along side the shark that lunges up from the deep–one shark attack per trailer!”

Easier said than done. This will require careful timing and constant use of tram side mirrors as I pull forward on this dock that, I should point out, also tilts!

“The goal,” Dennis goes on, “is to have each trailer experience the same effect as the one that preceded it. Four shark ‘pop-ups’ for four tram cars.”


This will take some practice to get used to. Nothing in our conventional driving careers has prepared us for something like this, but it’ll look great on the resume!

Basically, I’m the driver of a lengthy getaway car, and we practice this exhibit daily over the course of our 5-day instruction. It’s the most popular ride here, although I’ll soon find out that it breaks down constantly. Apparently the old shark has grown moody. He’s only got so many attacks left in him!


This is often how the shark takes break…he is a “must see” star at Worldwide!


The Psycho House sits atop the hill overseeing the shark attack experience.

Once we conclude our Great White experience, we navigate the trams uphill toward the instantly recognizable Psycho house (pictured above) and its adjacent hotel.

Soon after, we head into Rock Hudson Circle where Dennis points out various houses of interest. Interestingly enough, this entire neighborhood was previously located in another part of World Wide’s lot, but was recently moved. Only in Hollywood!

As we complete Rock Hudson circle, Dennis jokes, “It’s named after him because it goes both ways!”

The remainder of the tram tour is fairly relaxing. Nice breezes and views await in the wildlife area that we pass through en route back to where we began this tour loop.

Before we touch base, however, we must first visit “The Spinning Tube” ride. Folks, let me tell ya, this one’s not easy for the drivers, but it’s worth the effort to become a Tube Master.

Stay Tubed till next time!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 10


The Black Lagoon


My Glamour Tram training now takes us to this iconic movie set. We’ll need to learn the proper technique to safely exit to the other side of this self-draining lagoon. Yes, my magic genie controls that also!

Dennis, my trainer, gives us the low-down on what to expect here at this island destination. We’re told to interact with the guide here. We must listen to her or his set-up, then trigger our genie as the tram shouts “Part the Lagoon!”

This is about as much interaction as we get on the tour route. The more personal interaction already took place at the backside of Prop Plaza.

Dennis rightly mentions “Beware of the tram while exiting, it may fight you like a hooked sword fish! The exit ramp and the area beyond it are very slick, you can have a heck of a time gaining traction in the rain. Wait for the water to drain to the bottom of the grid first.”

“Each driver needs to get a feel for what I’m talking about,” he continues, his spin coinciding with the spinning of my tires. Ironically, we’re experiencing the very phenomenon he’s been describing. Dennis now wears an evil smile, apparently enjoying this moment. The mannequins provide little weight to off-set this slippery slide, but the sand bags take over finally, giving us just enough bite to exit.

“Many factors apply,” Dennis advises us. “Weight, water level, tram tires, speed, driver ability, etc.”

Meanwhile, a torpedo gets launched from a nearby submarine, exploding in a huge water spout. Water lands on the tram like rain. My pocket genie initiates all this mayhem, what a tool!

Once again, I’m on a set I’ve previously seen as a trespasser. “Tales of the Gold Monkey” shoots just opposite the the black lagoon! The last time I was here, I was privileged enough to pet a movie dog, in costume, wearing a patch on his eye.

The set that night was that of a crashed airplane in the jungle with skeletons inside of it.

This show was cancelled just a year before hand.

We all practice this lagoon exit stunt and feel we have a handle on it. Let’s move forward to the studio’s European sets.

We slowly move over the cobblestone roadway and through the narrow little stretch of village. The curbs in this village are all rounded off and worn down. Dennis points out that trams have done this over time, particularly the last car. The front power unit that I operate from never feels what’s happening way back there.

We stop in the center of “Berlin” and walk around each twist and turn we’ll face on this portion of the guided tour.

I was on the set of “The Voyagers” on this street just last year and watched a chase sequence. While climbing around in these European buildings, we happened upon a poker game some of the crew were having. This, I decided, was a fort built by employees, for employees.

This show filmed almost entirely on the backlot.

There are no animations in this section, just real old sets. As drivers, all that is required to learn is not to crash and grind all the curbs in this village. Simple enough!

A castle also looks down upon this village. It was used as the Tower of London in a Vincent Price classic. I think this is the coolest set at World Wide–a maze of turrets with views of the entire backlot. I used to sneak on this set to watch the TV show “Airwolf” film inside it’s cavernous walls.


Next we practice the “Run Away Ghost Train.” It’s pretty simple: the driver uses the Genie to trigger the engine to move forward down a hundred feet of track. It plays out as if we are in jeopardy, of course.

“I can’t stop” shouts the mannequin “engineer” at my tram–that’s also full of mannequins!

The engineer and his train does, of course, stop just short of a calamity. None of the

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 8

This site is best navigated like a book… start at the beginning… cheers!

Old Black Water Ride

Our Glamour Tram now begins training for proper entry into the old “Black Water Flood” experience. . .

We sit in the Glamour Tram perched atop Pine Cone Hill. Pine trees line both sides of this one-lane highway that allows only one-way traffic–and that one way is down. This forested area involves twists and turns that are tricky for this 16-wheel contraption to navigate.

As we arrive in a small Mexican  village set, we trigger our genie to begin the “Dirty Water” escapade. This is the oldest part of the World Wide lot. I’ve watched this animation several times before, but only as a trespasser. Now I’m seeing it  from the Captain’ seat of my Glamour Tram.

Thunder and lightning signal that trouble is brewing as we come to a complete stop. Rain begins to fall from a sunny blue sky. Only in Hollywood! Anticipation reaches its peak just before the large gates release 10,000 gallons of water down a deserted street.

youtube universal flash flood pics - Google Search

Tram trailers 2 and 3 can get filthy wet here…

Normally the flood has much less water than 10,000 gallons. Busy tour days cut short the time needed to properly recycle, so it tends to be closer to 4,000 gallons. When only a trickle of water is released, the guests faces generally reflect disappointment. Is that it? Rumor has it the water is recycled into the tourist drinking fountains!

This is nevertheless a very relaxing spot on a hot afternoon. The water may look bad, but smells good!

We exit after the sound effects turn off, and the last gallon of dirty water disappears. Next, we drive to the old west set, “5 points Texas,” with streets pointing in 5 directions.


Dennis instructs us to park exactly in the middle of town so our mannequins can see in every direction. I look back at them, and realize many of my passengers are wet. At least we experienced the full 10,000 gallons of that Dirty Black Water.


Now we arrived at the site of my favorite TV show in the early seventies: “Alias Smith and Jones.” I love cowboys on the run. I jump out of the Glamour Tram to kick up a little dust and reminisce. This was my favorite part of the lot to sneak into before they started paying me.

One of the roads in this old western town has an active train, one that actually runs itself like a Ghost Train. Of course I’ve ridden the “Run Away Train” before, but again, only as a trespasser. Back then, I pulled a mannequiun out of the train’s engine compartment and personally replaced him as the train engineer. A sound track shouts, “Look out, I can’t stop!” as the trains come close to the trams.

It is all dummy-proofed, naturally. The engineer is only for show, and the sound track is on a recorded loop. All we have to do is trigger the train by way of the tram genie at the right moment.

It’s so simple, even I could do it!

Yes, I’ve been a train and a tram engineer on this very same street.

Much more intense training ahead, stay tuned!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 9


The Prop Plaza Experience

There’s a hill at the exit of the Perilous Bridge that looks a bit menacing due to it’s steep incline. It takes you to a mandatory guest stop, what we employees know as a “cash grab,” requiring all passengers to exit, hopefully spend money, and reboard.

Today, however, my passengers will remain seated. They can’t walk remember–they’re mannequins, along for the ride as we continue our Glamour Tram operator testing.

“Pulling the tram up the hill was simple this afternoon,” Dennis tells us. “But this can be the most difficult part of the tram route when the tram is fully loaded. You’ll often need a push from Wild Bill’s Tug Boat looking truck. It’s something we can’t practice but, ou will experience it!”

As we reach the summit, we follow a road that circles this facility. While doing so, you witness the excitement that awaits you, this is a must exit the tram destination.

We practice very intricate tram operational manuevers here, lots of people in very tight spaces, Dennis warns us. Today it’s empty so we can practice. It usually just open for summer days and Christmas time.

We all take turns practicing this circle jerk.

Next, we park and chat a bit more about this area. Dennis looks at me directly, “this is  a notorius pick-up spot for drivers.” He does not mean loading the trams, he mentions, “it’s here where the magic developed with him and his tour guide wife.”

We half-ass applaud, he continues…”You and your guide can be stuck in the circle back-up for quite some time so this is where you let it all hang out, just you and her!”

“Him’s too” if you wish for that dish. Dennis laughs hard at his joke. I take all this insight to heart.

The future will play out just that way… No truer words have ever been spoken!

“People will argue and make up excuses why they can’t get off… just say company policy.” he gives more valuable insight.

“Tourists get a sniffing of what to expect here with the long lines to reboard trams as we pass in front of  the reboarding area, it’s a controlled KAOS!”…Dennis paints a Night Gallery type picture descriptive of what to expect.

This cash grab area is presently vacant.





As we all sit together, I can’t help tripping on Dick…He has one big eye and one squinting eye. I reckon, the big one is his killing eye…The one that looked through the site on his 50 caliber machine gun. He has one good eye and he can barely hear…

IMG_7306 IMG_7303

IMG_7302   IMG_7304

I can’t help wonder how many folk he has killed,…an interesting hire.

Dennis takes time here to reinforce tram safety rules…


“By pulling cord, it will activate a bell on the Glamour Tram dashboard, such as you probably have mounted on your bicycle handle bars. Good luck hearing it with all the commotion that goes on”…


“It is easy to fall out of these trams on animations and turns.”





Iroinically, Dennis is smoking at this moment. If you like to take a drag, Prop Plaza is the place to do it.

Fires could easily take off is the reason why smoking is not allowed on the backlot. Otherwise, we would sell cigerettes to parents by the carton…

Screenshot 2020-04-28 at 9.32.22 AM

Below…these smoking items are approved and safe to take on board the Glamour Trams


vintage fake cigerette boxes for kids - Google Search


“Even the best trained drivers can have accidents”…Dennis reminds us.


We wrap things up here at Prop Plaza. The best thing up here is the view.

Next we ascend down the backside of this hill top plaza and begin taking instructions on another iconic animation on the Glamour Tram route.

The Dirty Water Flood is next up in our training session, stay tuned!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden… page 8

That Perilous Bridge

Continued from Knight Rider, page 6…

The Kitt car rapidly disappears almost as fast as it appeared. But the energy level picked up for every passenger that’s not a mannequin.

“That’s the norm around here,” I’m thinking. “And they pay me to do this!”

I drive down the middle of the New York street not knowing whether to turn left, into small town square, or right, away from the “big city” and down a utility road.

“Orange cones will dictate the route when there’s film production in the area,” trainer Dennis reminds us. “Park the tram here next to them and we’ll take break.” Teamsters get a lot of breaks on this easy gig, it seems.

We all disembark and walk around the corner where “Knight Rider” is currently filming.  David’s behind the wheel of the Kitt car rehearsing a scene where he pulls up in front of a store front.

We watch from the “craft service” table where we scope out the snacks. Dennis and Dick only grab Cokes, but Ted and I are determined to fully capitalize on this opportunity. We make bagels loaded with cream cheese, lox and tomatoes. This is not my first time at a craft service table.

I stack a maple bar on top of my bagel so I can carry my hot cocoa–my hands are full! We head back to the tram and take a seat next to the mannequins.  Dennis starts asking some casual questions. “Are you guys married?”

Between bites of his bagel, Actor Ted tells us he’s “happily married,” but it’s clear his mind is elsewhere. You see, Ted auditioned for the role of Knight Rider, but lost it to Hasselhoff. I can only imagine what he’s thinking:  That should be me inside the Kitt car! David should be the one stuck practicing in this tram! I would kill in this scene!

I’m happily divorced,” I offer while licking my maple bar. “It appears this is the perfect job for a man who’s unattached. What’s your marital status Captain Dennis?”

“I’m married to a former tour guide here at World Wide, for over a decade now,” he says proudly.

A proud stable of fillies below…



Dick chimes in with: “I met a wonderful mail order Asian woman,” but I can’t tell if he’s serious. “We live quite close by,” he says. “And FYI, I double as a tour bus driver.”

Everyone’s heard of “The Odd Couple,” but right here we’ve got “The Odd Trio.” All of us have different agendas.

We chat for fifteen union minutes before the Glamour Tram engine kicks over and our training resumes. “We’re going to practice the Perilous Bridge next,” Dennis informs us, pointing down the path. “It’s that way.”


collapsing bridge Universal tour vintage pics - Google SearchWe all stare at the bridge from the road below. Rather than have us drive over it straightaway, Dennis decides to walk us over it first,  and we all share stories along the way.

Dennis goes first. “I met Lee Majors on this bridge. I was working on the ‘6 Million Dollar Man’ and Lee had to run across this while it collapses!”

IMG_7213Roy Rogers - Google Search

I go next, trying to one-up Dennis. “I met him more recently on the TV series ‘The Fall Guy.’ He and Roy Rogers were chatting between scenes on the Burbank Studios Western street. Even though I didn’t belong on their set, I had to go shake their hands, and they were extremely polite about it.”

Ted jumps in next. “We did an ‘Airwolf’ episode here!”

And finally, Dick has his say. “This looks like a bridge in Vietnam I filled full of lead!” he boasts, clearly very pleased with himself. “Once a helicopter machine gunner, always a helicopter machine gunner,” I say to myself. “I’m glad I missed that war!”

“So who wants to drive across first?” Dennis asks, and like a puppy I smile and raise my arm.

I make a point of straightening up my “passengers” before I begin.

“On this animation, your handling will be judged on how many of your mannequins stay in place.”

On my first attempt, my timing’s a bit slow, and only half the tram feels the full effects of the animation.

On the second try, I pick up speed, and execute a complete drop as if I’ve done this before. It’s really fulfilling, feeling the momentary freefall of the tram. Then all my passengers hit the floor–a  couple even dangling off the tram’s side.

“Way too fast!” Dennis remarks, and it’s clear my passengers would agree.

I reset the mannequins while the bridge resets itself, something it does every 45 seconds or so.

Large props, best enjoyed in the baking sun, next on my tour. Keep your arms and legs inside the Glamour Tram, please!

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…page 7.