Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sailing Through Sundays on The JC: The Kate’s Meow—Skipper Kate, Pt. 2

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One of the best things about my blogging/website work is the very cool people I’ve met because of it. Some have actually been in person and become good friends, others have just been over the web. Both groups have been very cool about sharing stories and photos. Skipper Kate is a JC afficianado who has some great stories to share. I have also included a photo taken by Kate herself, using her Holga Camera. Love the vintage look to it!

“I've been going to Disneyland since I was in the womb (literally—my mother found out she was pregnant a week after going to the park, and riding Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and the Matterhorn. She was a little freaked, but I obviously turned out "fine"). My Granny lived in Lake Forest, so it became a tradition for my parents to take my cousin and me there. Since I was incredibly frightened of anything that went over five MPH, my parents quickly became used to spending time in Fantasyland, riding the train, and of course, going on The Jungle Cruise. I loved the Jungle Cruise and asked my father if "a girl could do that too," (I admit I cringe when remembering that I said that). My father, being a supportive guy, told me that I absolutely could.

“At twelve, I was still terrified to go on attractions more frightening than "Pirates of the Carribean," so while my family/friends went on faster attractions, my best friend and I would ride the Jungle Cruise again and again. In particular I remember one skipper for his wonderful delivery. He initially told the joke about the tiger- "Did you guys know that bengal tigers can weigh over 500 POUNDS and jump over 25 FEET, here in the jungle?" While this was initially funny, he continued to bring it back at just the right times- ie, "Did you know that gorillas can weigh over 500 POUNDS and jump over 25 FEET, here in the jungle?" He continued to do this for just the right show scenes, up until we got back to dock, and he delivered the line about the skippers at unload. Needless to say, my twelve year old self and my best friend were laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our face.

“Roughly nine years later, I had just completed my first year of college, and was home for the summer. What do 19 year olds need? They need jobs. After applying to numerous retail stores (ironically, I had worked the stores of Paradise Pier in high school, so I was going with what I already knew I could handle). My father was working for the resort at that time, and he rather forcefully encouraged me to apply and rehire. Although I wasn't keen on the idea (I had mixed feelings from working at DCA), I applied anyway. With absolutely no input or direction from me, I was hired directly into attractions- specifically, The Jungle Cruise.

“My first few weeks as a Skipper were...not easy. I fumbled with mundane things like remembering who I shared my boat with and was often skittish of guests who would act/react in ways that I was not expecting. I also had trouble making boats laugh, and even though it is stated over and over that being a skipper is NOT about being funny, I've never met a guest who didn't appreciate an amusing skipper. I was working twelve hour days, and I was at the end of my rope- I had tried accents (I would like to apologize to any of you who happened to ride my boat during that period), different deliveries, and much more, but nothing delivered a consistent response.

“At the end of one sixty hour week, I tried the same joke that a skipper had used many years ago on me. Yes, I'm talking about that repetitive tiger joke. The boat LOVED it, and while I was in that boat, I suddenly realized I had not been properly gauging my audience's reactions. But after that cruise, I gained more than just proper timing- I gained confidence, which was what I really needed to improve my cruises. That cruise happened in mid-July, 2006, and I have gone back every summer ever since (although I like to think my boat is a bit better now).”

Thanks for sharing, Kate! And don’t forget to call your mom today to wish her a Happy Mother's Day! Follow my updates on Twitter. See more vintage (and current) Jungle Cruise photos on my regular website.


Thufer said...

Good stuff. I appreciated that very much.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nice post, I've always thought that it must be very hard to be a skipper, trying to make the jokes sound fresh over and over.

By the way, I like your new "header" illustration and am intrigued by "screen gem saturdays" and "traveling thursdays"!

Amy said...

It's really fun to hear these kind of behind the scenes stories. I couldn't imagine being a skipper and trying to keep the lines fresh even though you've done them goodness knows how many times in one day already.

Great new blog header!

TokyoMagic! said...

Great story! Thank you for sharing it with us, Kate!

Chiana_Chat said...

Thanks for the story Skipper Kate! I'm so glad things worked out so well. Who knows, we may share a putter down the river someday, and I'm sure you'll be a good skipper. :)

I can understand Dave needing to mix it up and consolidate 'round here - can't imagine how much time it all takes and he's doin' a post a day. It's a marathon not a sprint. ;)

Anonymous said...

Very sweet story. However, some visitors seem to feel that women guides sour the Jungle Cruise experience. Most everyone I know I politely asks to wait for a male skipper. Not trying to hurt anyone's feelings; just thought I'd point that fact out.

What about you nice people? Any preference either way?