Communication on the Rails: Working at Base

Just like regular employees, Disney College Program participants in the transportation department maintain regular schedules, have regular days off, and are scheduled at the same place within the same time frame. For example, I am nearly always at the Magic Kingdom monorail platform or audience control at night Thursdays through Mondays. However, there is sometimes a need for more people at our base, the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). The TTC is considered our “base,” because it is the only station with all three monorail beams and our Central Controller. It is our monorail headquarters, and we use the TTC to clock in, clock out, conduct meetings, and more. I have been redeployed from Magic Kingdom to base three different times, and each time required a different set of communication skills.

epcot ttc.jpg
Here, Monorail Yellow is coming into the TTC from Epcot. The Epcot beam is the longest, and it takes a driver 10-15 minutes to get from Epcot to the TTC (via wdwmagic.com).

While at Magic Kingdom, the Resort and Express monorail beams are side-by-side, and the operating console is located in between both beams. At base, all three monorail beams are separated. One console controls the Resort and Express beams, while the other console that controls the Epcot beam is Central’s headquarters and operated by Central themselves. The last time I was redeployed to base, I was assigned to close concourse (the Epcot beam at the TTC). My job was to listen to the radio for all of Epcot’s trains to be either parked into a station or taken back to shop. Then, I had to wait for Central’s clearance via PA system to close the station, meaning they’ve de-energized the beam in their console. Closing the station included redirecting guests going to Epcot’s parking lot to busing, putting chains up for the next day, collecting all radios and handpacks, and collecting lost-and-found items. Even though the tasks were simple, it was generally very intimidating, because Central can see everything and watches every move you make. If a serious enough mistake is made, such as leaving the platform before they have de-energized, it can cost points on the record card or even termination.

The first time I was redeployed to base, I was assigned to close the Resort side of base. There, I had to listen to the radio for all trains on the Resort beam to be deadheaded, or no longer accepting guests. Once I verbally confirmed with the drivers that there was nobody on board, I was able to close the station and call Central on the radio to ask for redeployment.

 

Audience control is slightly different at base than Magic Kingdom. At base, there are no queue ropes to put up at night. Instead, there are different ramps leading up to the station that are used at certain times. For example, the Resort monorails are only loaded and unloaded on one side at base, but if something is wrong with Express, we will open up a load side for Resorts. Therefore, we will have one load side and one unload side. If this needs to occur and I am on audience control, one of the platform greeters calls me via phone. Then, it’s a matter of convincing guests that the monorail that says “Magic Kingdom” actually stops at all of the resorts as well. Base audience control requires much more communication with the platform operators than Magic Kingdom audience control.

ttc.jpg
Here, guests are loading on the left for the Resort monorail due to Express not operating. Usually, guests load the Express monorail on the right. Audience control blocks off the right ramp so guests can load on the left (via attractionsmagazine.com).

Although I prefer Magic Kingdom, the TTC is a nice change of pace, as it is more relaxed than Magic Kingdom guest-wise. However, base generally requires more radio communication than Magic Kingdom due to headquarters being located there. If a train needs quick maintenance, it is taken care of at base. Then, the monorail can be sent out to Magic Kingdom and the three resorts. Generally, base has the most cast member action while Magic Kingdom has the most guest interaction.

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