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…