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
"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
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.