Tourism…

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.

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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

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