Jingle Bells and Candy Canes

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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…

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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