So instead of writing mile-long posts, I figured I would break it down into easier to handle chunks. That way you’ll stay interested and I’ll have more content to post! Besides, maybe if I’m writing about one thing at a time, then I’ll recall more memories…
One of my favorite spots to be in was Jack’s Point, right around 10 pm so I could enjoy Wishes. Not only did I have a front row seat for the show, but I got to be right at the entrance to the tunnel where all the trams came and went, which meant I got to wave and smile at all my coworkers. This position was also a lot like standing in the eye of a storm. As the masses would unload from the Monorails and the Ferry, they would pass you by on their way out to the cars or over to the trams. Hundreds of people at a time would exit, and as you stood there waving your light wand, all you really had to do was watch them pass. Sure, there were of course the questions that you were asked over and over (Is there a bathroom nearby? Where do the buses pick up? Where is my Uber? But how am I supposed to get out to my car if I can’t cross here? Which tram takes me to the Villains side?), but for the most part it was standing, smiling, and redirecting traffic.
That, and listening to the radio. As I mentioned before, Jack’s Point was set up right near the tunnel from which the trams came and went on their way out to the parking lots. Splitting the tunnel was a set of three or four safety flex poles to create the dividing line between the sides for entering and exiting. Now, something to know about the trams was that each car was lined with a safety “bumper” which would activate the emergency stop if it was hit. This was to make sure the tram didn’t continue to plow through poles, cars, or (God forbid) people if the driver ever lost control. Something else to note was that a few of the trams that we had traded with EPCOT were particularly wiggly in the back. The last car would swing just a little bit wider than others, which most of the time wasn’t an issue. Except on this particular night when the last car got a little out of whack and hit one of the flex poles in the middle of the tunnel.
Suddenly, just like that, we have a tram full of people stuck halfway through the tunnel right in the middle of exit. When the emergency break is activated, the tram must be shut down completely and the coordinators must come by and oversee the restarting of the vehicle. It typically isn’t a huge issue if the tram is out in the lot or even up at the load zone, but again- this tram was stuck in the tunnel. The only access to and from the parking lot and it was blocked up. So, on this night I’m at Jack’s Point, minding my own and answering questions as usual when over the radio, I hear the call.
“Parking 30 from Villains Tram” …. “Parking 30 from Villains Tram!”
I recognized the voice as one of my fellow CPs, and she sounded kind of frantic. At this moment, I turned around to see the tram stuck under the tunnel, and I was wondering what had happened. Finally:
“30 by…” “Um, we hit one of the flex poles in the tunnel and we’re stuck. I need a coordinator.”
By this time, I’m getting nervous. A Villains tram had come in from the lot passing through the tunnel on the other side, which meant the current one in the load-zone would be ready to move soon. Not only that, but the Heroes tram would soon be dispatching and they were far enough back that they could not see what was happening in the tunnel. Not knowing who the driver was or if they would be paying enough attention to stop in time had me imagining all kinds of horrible scenarios.
Everything seemed to happen very quickly from here forward. I saw the coordinator van pull up next to the stuck tram so I knew they would be on their way shortly, but at that same moment I heard the Heroes tram clear for dispatch (two honks). I tried to raise the spieler from the oncoming Heroes tram:
“Jack’s Point from Heroes tram who just left the load zone…”
Nothing. I ran to the gate that separated me from the tram lane and held my fist in the air for the Villains tram driver to hold, then began waving my arms at the oncoming tram to get the driver’s attention and again holding my fist in the air for “hold” signal. Who knows how Eddie, who was driving that tram, managed to see me, but he did and he stopped the tram in enough time to keep from running into the Villains that was still in the tunnel. His spieler, Alex was so confused and kept trying to clear the tram…
“Driver, why did you stop? We’re clear…” (Eddie honks one time for “No”) “Driver, we’re clear!”
Now, the driver and the spieler from the tram in the Villain’s load zone were standing nearby wondering what the commotion was, and Alex came walking up the length of the Heroes’ tram to see why his driver wouldn’t clear. When he saw there was still a tram stuck in the tunnel, he became visibly less upset. I told him to go back to his platform and I would let him know over the radio when it was safe to dispatch. Only a minute later the tram stuck in the tunnel was on its way and I could clear the two trams watching and waiting to get moving again.
The whole ordeal lasted maybe 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Even recalling it now, I get nervous and anxious. If Eddie hadn’t seen me would he have been able to stop in enough time to prevent injury or further delay? What if my radio had been dead or turned down and I hadn’t known there was an issue at all? In an attempt to remain humble, I do feel proud about the way I handled the situation, and I’m glad everyone came away from it safely. One of my fellow CPs even wrote me a Four Keys Card for it! There certainly was never a dull moment in the parking lot…