Friday, June 15, 2012

Tales from the Fring Line- The "Sealion Suit Scandel"

Oh No! What is this?!

"Tales from the Firing Line" is a new piece I'm starting which will feature a once a week story either from myself or a fellow theme park employee telling tales of just how insane working at a theme park can be. You've all heard the joke "What time is the 3 O'clock Parade"? Well we are here to tell you, that isn't a joke! People really do ask the most insane and silly questions while at theme parks. Some of us who have worked in the trenches and been on the firing lines of customer service have our horror stories about the truly stupid, inane and outrageous experiences we've had.. and this is where we're going to tell them!

Let me begin with a personal experience which holds true to the belief that tourists lock their brains in their rental car trunks when visiting a theme park!

Many moons ago back in high school, I worked for Seaworld Orlando (yes, before the 'Adventure Parks' got tacked on and we got stuck in fish print). Stadiums, Sealion and Otter to be exact back during the days of Hotel Clyde and Seymour.

One cool spring evening, I was on the pinniped side (left side) of the stadium and things where fairly normal for once. JTA was down as normal and the radio clipped to my belt was full of the inane chatter of the stadium operations crowd. My show finished like normal, so we stood around in front of the glass to explain that fingers look very much like shrimp and sea lions LOVE shrimp, thus your small child needs to keep it's fingers out of the water. It was just about clear, we where almost free of the last show of the day when my "Oh-this-is-gonna-suck" radar went off.

There, to the left. Stomping up to me.
Oh hell, here we go.

"Ma'am I must ask you" this man said. "We've been to Disney.."
And he trails off, Okay so you've been to Disney world.. that's nice?
"Tell me, how many people are in the Sealion suits"

Seriously? You didn't just ask me that did you?!

Confused I reply nicely with "Sir, they are real, live Sealions".

Naturally this couldn't possibly be true! "No really, it's okay you can tell me. We've been to Disney and everything there is fake so how many people are in those suits?".  I heard in that single moment the small sound my brain cracking and fizzling, you know the sound your electronics make when they die? My brain had officially hit the Emergency Stop button.
Again I say "No sir, I promise you. The animals here are real and alive, those are REAL Sealions".

This went back and forth for more then 15 minutes, this man simply couldn't grasp that the animals really where animals! Naturally said gentleman was getting madder and much louder in volume that I wouldn't invest in him the national secret of our robotic sealion technology!
Finally came the keyword I was waiting for once the words "Sealion suit" left his mouth. "I want to talk to your supervisor!"

Sure thing! Let me call for one!
I walked over to my phone and asked from one to come down, adding in they wouldn't believe this if I told them. They simply had to hear this for themselves! Less then ten minutes later a now highly curious supervisor arrives!

As soon as this guest sees the supervisor (Let's call my supervisor  Mr.Man) he rushes right over before I can explain what's going on and demands loudly. "HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THE SEALION SUITS?! I'VE BEEN TO DISNEY! IT'S ALL FAKE! HOW MANY?!"
Mr. Man was floored and just looked at me. The expression on my face said something like: Dude, I tried to explain they are real and I told you that you wouldn't believe this! Your turn!

Fast Forward: 15 more minutes of Mr.Man and myself trying to explain that the real animals are real and not fur suits like you see in Disney. At this point Mr.Everything-is-fake-I've-been-to-Disney looks like he's going to give himself a stroke he's so worked up, red faced and angry. Mr. Man is looking hopeless and I'm trying my damnedest not to fall on my ass laughing hysterically at this entire situation. Finally Mr. Man looks to me in complete disbelief at what is happening and says "Fine! You tell him!"

Trying my damnedest not to giggle and grin, to look like a serious employee imparting the wisdom of the ages I reply: "One.. and the Otter is a remote control but you can't tell anyone!"

A smug look comes across his man's face! He knew our deep, dark secret at last!
Without missing a beat as my supervisor and I turn to walk away "So how many people drive Shamu?"

Knowing how this works now, that this guest simply won't leave unless we give him an answer Mr.Man and I look at each other and simply answer: "3.. it takes 3 people to drive each Orca" and we quickly walk away! 

**This is a true story the names have been changed to protect the innocent from the stupid**

((Do you have a great story from the firing line? Does it need to be shared with folks because "Your just not going to believe this shit"? Then please email it to!))

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