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Land of the Rising Mickey
Page 1 of 2

by Marc Borrelli (archives)
February 5, 2001
In this installment, DisneySea construction worker "Yamata Taro" talks about his experience working with contractors, Field Art Directors and Imagineers.

Rising-20010205.jpg (18179 bytes)
Construction at Tokyo DisneySea

Another Day, Another Yen

The person relating his experiences in this article doesn't exist. Essentially, he's a number of people rolled into one (and none of them ever worked at "Caldera Overall"). The name "Yamata Taro" is generic, much like "John Smith" is in America. His story, on the other hand, is real and very typical.

In our last episode, Yamata Taro started his day at 6:30am, made his way to work by train, and did Radio Exercises, then Morning Assembly with 600 of his coworkers. Now it's 8:30 and time to really get to work.

Part 2

I walked from Cape Cod, through the empty sea. Morning Assembly was over and a few of my friends and I were headed to our work areas. We were talking about which girl on the site is the cutest. There aren't too many women working here, but some of them are really pretty. There's this painter (basically all the girls here are painters) that I think is gorgeous. I see her all the time and I've talked to her a couple times. I thought she was really nice and she liked me, but I never had the guts to ask her out, until yesterday. To make a long story short, we set up a date for tomorrow night. Ok, I'm going to stop talking about this before I give away that working on DisneySea is really just a big soap opera!

I've worked at a lot of places in Area 3, but I've been at an area called "Caldera Overall" for a while now. I don't know if "Caldera Overall" will be it's official name when the park opens, but that's what everyone calls it. I know what a caldera is. Basically, it's the crater you get when a volcano explodes, and there's a big fake one just over the fake hill. But "Overall"? Don't ask me. It's at the base of Mysterious Island on the side facing Mediterranean Harbor, below the path that people will take to get form Mediterranean Harbor to the Fortress. After that they can either go across Bridge 15 (Pointe Vecchio Bridge - based on the original in Florence, Italy), over to Cape Cod, or keep walking to Port Discovery.

I'd love to show you some pictures of what I'm talking about, but they're always very serious at the Morning Assemblies about no picture taking (but then they sell disposable cameras at the on site conbini?!) . You'd think I work at an American missile factory or something they way they are about things. It's not just photos, either. The other day someone got in trouble because he left some blueprints on a car and the wind blew them away. Some of them were found the next day by the clean up people. It was the big deal at the Assembly that morning.

Like I said before, I make lava... I AM A GOD! Well, actually... I make fake lava out of cement. A lot of people will end up seeing my work. I hear that they expect 10 million people to come to DisneySea in the first year. I think they're playing it safe and there will be a lot more. It's always important to me that I do a good job, but knowing so many people will see and take pictures in front of what I'm doing makes me work even harder.

Note - At the DisneySea site, Field Art Directors are referred to as F.A.D. (each letter pronounced separately), the people who are the next step up the creative ladder are known as Chief F.A.D. (literally, the English word "Chief"), and the ones in charge of DisneySea's creative process are called W.D.I. (standing for, of course, Walt Disney Imagineering). It's my understanding that the F.A.D. working at DisneySea were hired in Japan, specifically for this project. The F.A.D. are given specific, relatively small areas to supervise (such as a section of walkway or an area of shoreline), the Chief F.A.D. supervise several near-by areas under regular F.A.D. supervision, and they all answer to W.D.I.

This morning a F.A.D. said a good one to me. They're artists, so I guess it should go without saying that they're, well... interesting. They're very creative and, for the most part, they're off in their own little world. Today one of them told me that what I'm working on "should be like a great bird crossing an open plain". He didn't mean it literally, of course. What I'm working on doesn't have anything to do with birds and I've never seen an open plain in my life. He knew what he meant, but no one else did. F.A.D. are always saying stuff like that. I just try to figure out what they're looking for anyway and hope they're happy with what I do.

They're not always happy, though. Most of the problems happen when a company is tired of waiting for an F.A.D. to give them enough information about something and they start working on it anyway. Several times I've seen a crew's whole day's worth of work started over because it wasn't what the F.A.D. had in mind. Again, basically all my coworkers think it's a stupid waste of time and money to pay so much attention to details. Like I said, I can appreciate the details, but I can relate, too. Sometimes it's pretty frustrating. But I understand that the F.A.D. have a job to do. There's a certain way things are supposed to look and a lot of times that relates to other things in the project. There really is a vision for this place. It's like a big puzzle and all the pieces have to fit.

Again, the F.A.D. are artists, but they're human, too. They can't help but have their own personal tastes. One F.A.D. will tell me to do something one way and, when he or she isn't around, another one will come along and tell me to do it a completely different way. To complicate things even more, they aren't at the top of the decision making ladder and their taste doesn't always match their boss's. It isn't unusual for us to finish work on something after a F.A.D. has approved it and then have a Chief F.A.D. come along and say it's all wrong. So we redo the area again... After we've finished it again we still have to worry that the W.D.I. will look at it and tell us to start over again!

Sometimes I wish they would all understand that I have a job to do, too, and I'm working very hard. It makes me really frustrated when I put a lot of effort into something and then I'm told that it's all wrong and I have to start again from scratch. It's also pretty often that I have to ask them about something over and over before they tell me what I need to know so I can do my work right. I thinks a lot of it has do do with what I was just talking about. It seems to me that if the F.A.D., Chief F.A.D., and the W.D.I. spent more time talking to each other there wouldn't be so many problems and wasted time. This project is over a month behind schedule and everyone knows it... except for some of them.

-- Marc Borrelli

Marc Borrelli has been visiting Disneyland in California for over thirty years and has had the opportunity to observe many of the Park's onstage and backstage workings. He is an entrepreneur who alternates between working obsessively and having way too much time on his hands.  In the past few years he's spent much of that time exploring his hobby of trying to figure out just what it is that makes the people who design, build, operate, and go to Disney theme parks tick. He is now living in Tokyo, Japan and has turned his attention to the Tokyo Disney Resort and the unique culture in which it exists. He also created and maintains his Tokyo DisneySea Preview website.

Land of the Rising Mickey is normally posted on the first Monday of each month. This month we posted two editions this being the second.

The opinions expressed by Marc Borrelli, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

Marc Borrelli and LaughingPlace.com. All rights reserved

-- Posted February 5, 2001

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