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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: "Tales of an Adventure Nut"

October 21, 2012

by Guest Writer Albert Gutierrez

Author's note: Yours truly has been busy concocting new magical dishes in Magic Kingdom, and so has once again handed the reins over to everyone's favorite Saturday Matineer Albert Gutierrez. Give him a hand as he takes over another weekend at From Screen to Theme.

Howdy ho, there, Sunday Brunchers! As you can tell, Reuben is a bit busy at the moment, so he's allowed me to commandeer his column. Of course, I've done so before, but this time, I won't be trying to figure out what food Disney Mothers will like. Nor will I engage in a culinary adventure with ImMarielle. Instead, we'll take a look at how I was once a Sunday Bruncher in Magic Kingdom. Actually, maybe we can call it Sunday Cruncher...



Picture it, Adventureland 2005. You are standing right outside the entrance of Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. You hear the birds squawking, "What are you doing here, William?" and "What are YOU doing here, Morris?!?" Tribal drums beat endlessly in the background. Occasionally, you'll notice a scent in the air. Sweet, succulent, sugary. You look around, where is it coming from? As you turn right past the entrance to the Tiki Room, on the way to Pirates of the Caribbean, you see it. That wonderful cinnamon smell is coming from a nut wagon. You walk over, there is strangely no line. Behind the counter of the wagon is an Asian kid, his nametag says "Albert." He's wearing the Adventureland costume - a bright and colorful tunic that is best described as pajamas for work - and he smiles. "Hi there, how are you on this magical day?"

"What is that delicious smell?" you ask Albert.

"Those are the cinnamon glazed almonds," Albert says. He points to the rotating kettle to his left, and the shiny glazed nuts that lay cooling in the tray. "Want a sample?" Albert grabs a small Mickey Mouse courtesy cup and extends it out to you. You open your palm, he pours a few almonds in. You put them in your mouth, chew it a few times. It's a taste explosion in your mouth, the right amount of cinnamon, a hint of vanilla, and that sweet, sweet glaze over the roasted almonds.

"Oh my goodness," you say. "These almonds are delicious!"

"Thanks!" Albert says. "Would you like a bag?"

You nod eagerly, and Albert grabs a bag, bagged and stacked in a separate glass cabinet. They're warm to the touch, and as soon as you unwrap the top, you're hit again with that magnificent cinnamon scent. You pay the boy quickly, and walk away, not caring where you're going, just content that you have lovely munchings of the almond variety.

The above situation has happened several times, more than I can count, during my time in the Walt Disney World College Program. For guests, these are individual experiences. They enjoy their almonds without thinking about the backstage stories that are associated with them. For me, every time I see that wagon, I'm reminded of my time as the Adventure Nut King...



In 2005, I worked in Magic Kingdom's OutDoor Foods (ODF), where we reigned over all the land, selling popcorn, ice cream, and nuts. I often alternated between vendor and stocker, and for most of my vending time, I was in charge of Adventure Nut, the nut wagon in Adventureland. In my seventh-month reign as the Adventure Nut King, it was its own little empire, right by Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management.

Chip 'n' Dale would have their Meet 'n' Greets right in front of my wagon, and they'd always playfully come over, begging for nuts. Keeping to the rules of the Magic Kingdom, I'd have to turn them away, lest they spoil their dinner later. But occasionally, I'd sneak a few in the courtesy cup, and when a friend of theirs stopped by later, I'd tell them to give the cup to Chip 'n' Dale as a dessert, on the house! Chip 'n' Dale even signed one of their dinner plates just for me!

I was so happy for the autograph, that on a day off - which incidentally was also when my brother Reuben came down for a visit! - we stood in line to meet Chip 'n' Dale. When they motioned for an autograph book from me (as Reuben had one), I smiled and said, "No thanks, I already have your autograph!" Soon, they recognized me, and motioned for a hug. I don't have a picture of the hug, but the Photopass cast member did get one of the four of us together.



For new ODF college program cast members, you were trained either at MSB (short for Main Street Beverage, a drinks-and-ice-cream stand in the Castle Hub) or at the nut wagons. Most of the cast members trained at MSB, but a select few were granted the special privilege of working at "Adventure Nut" and its sister wagon, Fantasyland's "Fan Nut." I was one of the few with that special privilege, likely because I wasn't allergic to nuts as most of the other new ODF CP's were. If I wasn't working as a stocker, I was at Adventure Nut. Sure, I'd work at other wagons, but Adventure Nut became my second home. I heard the Enchanted Tiki Room pre-show so many times that I could recite it verbatim at the drop of a hat, and can still remember most of it today!

Over time, I became one of the most reliable and popular nut wagon cast members there. I had my own custom recipe for the almonds (simply using the same ingredients, but with different proportions and alternate roast times), kept the wagon as clean and organized as a hospital, and could multi-task like it was nobody's business. Usually during the managers' walks throughout the lands, they'd stop briefly at each wagon in order to check up on the cast members. My managers always loved coming to my wagon, not only because they could sample some roasted almonds, but because they could ask me a question and I'd answer it whilst also serving guests, bagging almonds, and writing down an inventory order that I'd know to make in ten minutes.

Perhaps the greatest testament to how well I ran that wagon was at the end of the day, when my managers did NOT come to visit me. You see, whenever a cast member closes a popcorn or nut wagon, they'll bring all their inventory and bank to the backstage garage, where it is counted and tallied. Then, the cast member returns to the wagon to clean it up and get it prepared for the next day's opening cast member. Once it's clean, they have to call the managers for inspection, and then wait for the managers to check that everything's been cleaned and re-stocked properly. Not for me. I was so organized at Adventure Nut and Fan Nut that whenever I was about to head out to clean my wagon, the managers would tell me to not bother calling them for inspection, I could just clean it and come back to the garage for clock-out.

During a quick break backstage, I was able to get a picture with one of my managers, Cyndi.



One of my favorite tales from Adventure Nut concerns a Grad Nite weekend I worked. I was scheduled to close Adventure Nut. The park closed at 7:00 pm, but my shift wouldn't be over until 10:45. Since I was one of the few cast members in ODF to have an odd shift ending at 10:45, my managers didn't know what else to do with me. The actual Grad Nite shift wouldn't come in until 8:30. I ended up doing a lot of odd-jobs around the park (ODF-related of course), before I finally said, "You know, making the roasted almonds takes some time, why not send me back to the wagon and make a few batches so the cast member doesn't have to?". The managers let me, and I ended up making six batches in an hour and a half, before a cast member finally came to take over Adventure Nut for the Grad Nite shift. I asked my managers if I could stay for Grad Nite and help out, and they said no, I deserved a break.

The next day, I was tasked with opening Adventure Nut. The morning managers didn't know that I closed yesterday, or that I already made batches, and so when I came in that morning, one of my managers said, "Good news, Albert, we have five batches leftover from Grad Nite, so you probably won't have to make any batches until changeover!" I didn't seem as surprised as they expected, and I told them that I made those batches last night! It was my easiest opening shift ever at Adventure Nut, all because I did the work the night before!

Unrelated to Grad Nite, but this was Joyce's last day of work (she was a Hong Kong cast member). A friend snapped this picture of the two of us.



A lot has changed since my reign as Adventure Nut King. Managers have come and gone, the wagon itself has moved closer to Jungle Popcorn, and Chip 'n' Dale hold their meet and greets further away. But for those glorious seven months, Adventureland was my favorite land (actually, it still is), Adventure Nut was second home, and Chip 'n' Dale were my favorite visitors. Every time I visit Magic Kingdom, I have to stop by Adventure Nut, either to breathe in that heavenly smell once more, or simply indulge in a little nostalgia by buying a bag of freshly roasted almonds.

My last day working Adventure Nut was also my last day working on my 2005 College Program. Art came to give me my first break, and I asked a guest to take our picture.

Later that day, Suzanna came to take over the wagon, with a few new cast members she was training. Suzanna was such a sweetheart, and I knew I had to get a picture with her as well.




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