Sunday, February 15, 2009

Disney's Club 33

Working for a large corporation sometimes allows nice perks to wander your way. During my thirty years at AT&T, I was able to participate in many different functions that would normally be off limits to an outsider.

One of the big perks was being the turf technician at Rocketdyne, Santa Susanna Field Labs, just outside the San Fernando Valley, in southern California. It was there that they built and tested the Saturn and Delta rocket engines. They also tested the Space Shuttle engines and worked on the Peacekeeper missile systems. Knowing all the security personel and the AT&T toolbelt on my hips, I was allowed virtually unchecked access to the whole facility. I could sit in the stands and watch the rocket firings or I could go down in the underground control room to watch the firings from twenty different views. In the late '80s the facility was humming. They might do eight or more tests a week.

The other half of the "hill", as Santa Susanna Labs was referred to, was the Dept of Energy. They explored the "nuclear" issues. The first nuclear reactor in the US was at the field labs. It also has the dubious distinction of being the first nuclear reactor to melt down in the US. Unfortunately, this happened in 1959 and wasn't reported to the public until the late 70's. Lawsuits are still ongoing and will probably out live me.

Other perks included working the '84 Olympics in LA, behind the scenes providing communication for President Clinton, weeks on end at the Renaissance Faire, the TV shoots, the Reagan Library. There has been so much, I struggle to recall them all. But there is one which I treasure above them all.
AT&T, being a corporate sponsor of Disney, has a membership in the VERY exclusive Disneyland "Club 33"
( For every real Disney fan, the holy grail is an invitation to the Club 33. It begins with passes to both parks for all the invited. We have been lucky and have had two opportunities to visit the Club. Once for lunch and now, once for dinner.
You press a doorbell near a small sign that just has the numbers "33". Located to the right of the entrance to the Blue Bayou resturant, you might pass it as a prop. A voice asks for your parties name and soon after a non-discript door opens with a hostess in Victorian garb there to greet you and your party. You take a "lift" to the second floor where you are greeted by the Host , who will show you to your table. This time we sat in the "Trophy Room".

Looking around at all the pictures of Mr Disney and his cast of characters, it's amazing the changes in Disneyland thoughout the years. At our table was my former supervisor, John, and his girlfriend, Charlene, our long time friends, John and Chris, and Mischelle and I.

Dinner was a very formal affair and the meal was fabulous. Everyone ordered the Chateaubriand which melted in your mouth like butter. Dessert was a chocolate truffle made with imported Belgium chocolate (one of Disney's favorites). And to top it off, a sniffer of Grand Mariner (this is the only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol and that bartender can mix a mean Long Island Iced Tea).

After dinner it was off to the rides. We had "fast passes" for Indiana Jones, so we were able to go to the front of the line bypassing an hour wait.

All too quickly the night came to an end. A stroll down Main Street with its lights bright against the night sky. The sparkles of the the fireworks, the loud boom echoing after the explosion of light. Tinker Bell floats across the sky. Another good day at Disneyland.

No comments: