Prospective machinists and electricians often get an unusual question when applying for Cast Members positions at Disneyland: Do you scuba dive??
Scuba diving plays a major role for 54 Cast Members at the Disneyland Resort, one of the oddest jobs at the two parks. Divers are responsible for maintaining and fixing attractions and equipment in the waterways in the two parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
After the park close, divers suit up, get in the water and check tracks, animatronics and vehicles-usually in the dark. Divers also retrieve lost items. Up to half of their time is spent in water.
In the lagoon for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, divers use flashlights or headlights to navigate waters, looking under submarines and testing animatronics. Teams of four are assigned to each job with at least two going underwater at the same time.
The toughest challenge: The cold
One morning last week, the water was about 50 degrees. Even with wetsuits, hands go numb.
Divers go through about four months of scuba training in addition to other job preparation.Disney asks for volunteers among its current staff or seeks outside employees for the scuba jobs. Applicants are asked if they dive or would be willing to train. Divers must go through intense training up to 140 feet in the open ocean, including rescue lessons. Cast Members must learn rescue techniques in case visitors fall in or fellow Cast Members need help.
The deepest point of the Disney waterways is 22 feet, in Disneyland's Rivers of America by the Fantasmic equipment. In the Nemo lagoon, the waters reach 12 feet. Most of the tools, such as bolts and wrenches, are traditional. But some pneumatic tools are designed for the water.
Divers are assigned to one particular attraction, such as "World of Color" in California Adventure or Disneyland's Jungle Cruise.
For Nemo attraction, divers usually get in the water between 2 and 4 a.m. One morning last week, divers demonstrated their work for a Disney camera crew and a group from the Orange County Register staffers before 7 a.m.
Two divers took their equipment- including masks and air tanks- off of a yellow-topped golf cart that they call the "Nemo Mobile." Once in the water, they swam to an animatronic sea bass, checking its jaw movement and cleaning out its mouth. Later, the divers paddled to two clams, one blue and the other purple, ensuring that they open and close.
Divers have their own sign language: pinching index fingers and thumbs to say turn it up, making a clam motion to adjust the mouth or clenching fists to indicate "stop." Beside fixing equipment, divers also retrieve lost items such as cameras, glasses,cellular phones, hats and purses. Divers can not be claustrophobic, in World of Color, divers must go under the platform and go into places with only one way out.