Intern Post, Julie Matsen: On-the-Job Journaling (Disney College Program)

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Photo by Julie Matsen

When I worked at the Studio Backlot Tour, a now-defunct attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I kept a pen and reporter’s notebook in my costume pocket. We were all supposed to keep pens and paper handy in case we encountered a guest who had trouble with spoken English. Most notebooks remained blank. Mine was mostly filled with descriptions of the Backlot Tour, sentences scrawled in between tour groups and on lunch breaks. The click of love-bugs on the windshield; the shudder and sigh of the air brakes; the heaviness of humid Orlando air made thicker by the flora in the neighboring greens department. They were feelings, mostly, and snapshots.

Some jottings were near-clinical measurements: The tram is 163 feet long, red, flat-nosed. The doors of all six cars would open out toward the tour groups, like some retro stretch DeLoreans had been strung together. “Por favor mantenganse alejado de la linea amarilla, hasta que las puertas abran completamente,” we would tell the guests. “Please stay completely behind the yellow line until those doors are all the way open.” Some would ignore the instructions and run up to the cars.

Others were impressions along the ride path. The movie props that dotted the landscape of the tour were beginning to appear derelict from their constant exposure to the elements. The plywood fighter jets from Pearl Harbor, the wings of which occasionally fell off and had to be supported by crates, were an obvious example. I sometimes found new ways to describe the set of Catastrophe Canyon. This centerpiece of the tour had pyrotechnic and hydraulic effects, and writing about the balance of oil derricks bursting into flame and seventy-thousand-gallon waterfalls felt natural.

Some notes were more visceral, like how I cried after my first Signal 70—radio lingo for a lost child, in this case an eight-year-old girl wearing a Rapunzel t-shirt. I never saw the girl, except on the cell phone of her worried father. I had been a Signal 70 once, on my first trip to Disneyland. I walked right up to a security cast member and announced that I was lost, as this little girl had done. I saw a flash of my mother in that dad’s panic. I wrote about calling my mother when that shift ended. I wrote about my coworkers, the fellow cast members who grew to become great friends (the Williams family especially). I wrote about living in company-owned housing, which was part of my contract as a participant in the Disney College Program. I wrote about the soft down of the duckling I once rescued from the ride path, later to see it rejected by its mother because it smelled like my hands. We had named it Squirt. I wrote about Julian, the baby that had been thrust into my arms when his parents saw my nametag. It is against company policy to hold guests’ babies, however adorably named they may be. Still, I was not about to drop him.

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Photo by Julie Matsen

Mainly, I would try to record things which made me smile. Entertainment Cast Members in Indiana Jones costumes would play daily tennis matches between their shows. During Star Wars Weekends, a few Sand People practiced their runway poses while an alien mercenary rode a unicycle. Some guests would see a war veteran in their midst and thank them for their service. A child sent to the parks by the Make-a-Wish Foundation would find their way to the front of our attraction queue, and we would find ways to give their day a little bit more magic. Really, the magic came from them, and we just had to redirect it.

Interning at Walt Disney World as part of the Disney College Program did more than give me a unique perspective into the field of theme parks. My reporter’s notebook became an invaluable yet inadvertent asset during my Barrett thesis research, in which I explored the phenomenon of storytelling in theme park environments. More than that, working in the Backlands became an exercise in collecting moments, a skill which I was able to further develop as a section editor and blogger for Superstition Review. In hindsight, the things that made it into that notebook are the things that inspired me to keep writing.

Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review Reading: Show Us What You Got!

Marooned Annual Reading

Next Thursday, November 20thMarooned Undergraduate Creative Review will be hosting their annual reading to celebrate their most recent issue at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus in room 316 of the Durham Language and Literature building from 6-9 pm.

We are excited to present the amazing work from some of our 23 contributors for Volume 12. So far, our lineup of readers includes Jillian Mason, Jessica Swarner, and Kevin Hanlon.

Then following the scheduled readings, audience members will be able to perform in our open mic session. If you are interested in reading at the open mic, you should arrive a little early to sign up.

We will be providing food and drinks. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Marooned vol 12 cover

Marooned is a literary magazine supported by the Arizona State University Department of English. We are currently run by five undergraduate interns and supervisor Bob Haynes.

We accept submissions in poetry, fiction, essay, photography, and art starting in the fall semester until our submission deadline on April 1st. Copies of our current and past issues are available for purchase for $5 from our interns on ASU’s Tempe campus, and will be available at our reading.

Come join us for a fun evening in celebrating contemporary literature from Marooned’s most recent issue.

Michael Cohen is a student in Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. He is pursuing a degree in creative writing and hopes to continue his writing education upon graduating, while working towards becoming a published author. He is also an editor for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review.

Elizabeth S. Hansen is a senior at Arizona State University Tempe pursuing degrees in creative writing and communication under Barrett, the Honors College, as well as a writing certificate. She is an intern for the literary magazine Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review, as well as Superstition Review. Her work has been published in issue 8 of Miracle Magazine. Upon graduation, Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in the writing and/or teaching industries.

Tamara Ignatian is a senior pursuing her degree in English through Arizona State University online and is working as an intern on campus for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review. Outside of school, Tamara reads anything that she can get her hands on and runs a poetry blog. After graduation, Tamara intends to further her education in the hopes of one day teaching English or editing professionally.

Haley Marshall is a senior at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in film studies. Also a member of Barrett, the Honors College and an editorial intern atMarooned, she’s hoping to work in the publishing industry after graduation.

Madison Ruffner is a junior at Arizona State University pursing a degree in English literature, as well as minors in both Business and Japanese. In addition to being an intern for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review she has a passion for writing in both languages. After graduation she hopes to pursue a career in publishing in either language, in either Japan or the United States.

Bob Haynes currently teaches professional and technical writing classes at Arizona State University and is Director of the Writing Certificate Program. He is also the faculty advisor for the student-run literary magazine Marooned. Bob has also written educational nonfiction for children and his works have been published in journals such as Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. His background includes journalism studies at the George Washington University, professional publishing at Stanford University, and creative writing at ASU. He retired from NASA in 1998 and has been teaching at ASU since 2002.