Well, my last day at Disneyland was Sunday, July 31st, 2005. Sad day for me. It’s strange how such a silly thing can be so emotional. It was never really a "job" for me – it was a hobby. Really it was.
I took out the 2:30p "A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps" tour with 11 guests. Right at the beginning when I introduce myself and what we are going to be doing, I did tell the guests that this was my last tour, and that the only reason I worked at Disneyland was to give this tour. I choked up right there. It was actually hard to believe that my time there was done.
3 hours after starting, we ended up at The Disney Gallery for lunch, as always, but once I got the last of my guests into the Gallery and began my final spiel, all of the Disney Gallery cast members came into the room holding a large sign written on cardboard with a sharpie that said "Dave, we’ll miss you – The Disney Gallery". John (from the Gallery) then announced that this was my last tour at Disneyland and invited everyone in the Gallery to join in a cheer of "hip-hip-hooray" (he said that Happy Birthday wasn’t the right song.)
I was absolutely on the verge of losing it right there. The tears welled up in my eyes and I had to fight from totally crying out loud. I was honored to have connected with the cast members from the Gallery enough for them to want to say goodbye that way. After that we all sat down for lunch, and another surprise was there waiting for me. Some tour guests from a month earlier had found out that I was taking out my last tour – Jesse, Kelly and their 3 daughters came up to the Gallery just to say goodbye and wish me luck. With hugs all around, and me holding back my tears and emotions, I went back to that days tour guests and started answering questions.
After lunch and goodbyes to my tour guests and the Gallery cast members, John, Cheryl and I headed back to RTS (Resort Tour Services) as usual. Upon getting there – there was no fanfare or goodbyes. In fact, the manager Russell didn’t even realize until something was said, that it was my last tour and I was done at Disneyland. I honestly did not expect anything special, but it was surprising that my own department barely recognized my leaving, while people from the stores – who I only came in contact with during the tours – made my day so special. To them, I am sincerely thankful for wrapping up my short time working at Disneyland with such a great experience.
And now, back to real life. On Monday morning I woke up and realized that I wasn’t a Disney employee anymore, and I was very sad. It is such a unique experience and can be such a special time to work at Disneyland. As much as I love Disneyland and Walt Disney and the history, heritage, and traditions surrounding it all, I had no choice but to leave. I’ll write more about that later, but for now, I’ll just cherish the memories and my time at Walt’s first themed amusement park – Disneyland.