Kenversations: Ray Sidejas Retires
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Ray Sidejas is one of those names that isn't in the news and isn't all over the Disney enthusiast discussions. But if you're in theme park operations, especially with Disney, you should have heard the name.
Ray, only the second person to lead the Disneyland Custodial operation, retired on Friday, September 30, 2011. I was honored to be allowed to attend the celebration of his career.
The late great Chuck Boyajian retired in 1981 after building the Disneyland Custodial operation, a feat that would earn him a Window on Main Street. At his retirement party in the old Grand Hotel (now the Pumbaa parking lot), Chuck announced his hand-picked successor, Ray. The legendary Dick Nunis approached Ray and told him not to try to fill Chuck's shoes, but to fill his own. That is the challenge Ray passed along to everyone at his retirement celebration – fill your own shoes.
Who is Ray Sidejas?
In 1965, Ray took the suggestion of his lifelong best friend John Behrendt, and applied to be a Disneyland cast member. Thus, Ray began his Disney career on May 1 of that year, and was able to personally observe Walt Disney enjoying and scrutinizing the fruits of his vision. And just sixteen short years later, Ray assumed leadership of the Disneyland Custodial team. Ray had helped with the opening of Walt Disney World Resort, and would go on to help with the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
There have been many changes over the years. What was originally "Janitorial", which was aligned with Facilities, became Custodial (Disneyland Custodial Guest Services) and aligned with Operations, and so forth. Disneyland went to an every day operation; women were hired for all positions, not just to clean women's restrooms; Bussing was transferred away from Custodial to Restaurant Operations; and Disneyland grew from a theme park and parking lot by adding a hotel (appropriately enough, the Disneyland Hotel), then adding two more hotels, a second theme park, and a shopping & dining district with multiple parking lots and a parking structure. But through all of the changes, the goal remained the same: meet Walt's vision of a safe, clean, friendly place. As such, the Custodial operation is one that runs 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year and is world renown.