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February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras at Port Orleans

Anyone who works for a living knows, morale is paramount. Happy workers make happy customers. Disney understands this all too well and does its best to make the working conditions at its parks and resorts as pleasant as possible. And in their search for ways to encourage teamwork, the management of Port Orleans has come up with a novel way to boost morale and engage its cast members in fun. Playing off of the New Orleans theme of the resort, the cast members use Mardi Gras as a time that they can celebrate in a friendly competition with their fellow workers.

Every year, the resort's various departments (Operations Learning & Development, Merchandise, Food & Beverage, Front Office, Housekeeping/Custodial, Recreation, Watercraft Transportation, and Engineering) create floats to be paraded around both the Riverside and the French Quarter sections of Port Orleans on Fat Tuesday. But these floats are not the type you might see on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. At Port Orleans, the CMs transform the resort's Pargos into festive displays. A Pargo (brand name) is the electric cart that transports guests and luggage around the resort. With great imagination, these simple vehicles are converted into colorfully themed floats that are eligible to win an award for Best Themed, Most Creative, and Best Show. The theme for 2012 is "Disney's Heritage through the Decades." All of the CMs participating volunteer their time. They decorate their floats the night before, starting around midnight. All are given equal time so no team has an advantage.

Of course, the CMs aren't the only ones to benefit from this team-building activity. The guests staying at the resort also enjoy this celebratory event. Sure, it's not as sophisticated as the parades seen in the theme parks, but that's what makes it so much fun. It's obvious that these floats were made with love and the enthusiasm of the CMs is infectious. As the floats pass by, dozens of CMs hand out candy and necklaces to the spectators that line the parade route.

Today's parade (February 21, 2012) began with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.


Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen


They were followed by the Pirates of the Caribbean.


Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean


"it's a small world" came next with a number of Duffy Bears dressed in international costumes.


it's a small world

it's a small world


The Haunted Mansion followed, complete with a boom box playing that oh so familiar "Grim Grinning Ghosts."


Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion


For you sun worshipers, Typhoon Lagoon made an appearance.


Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon


Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Great Movie Ride passed by next, complete with a few of the attraction's characters.


Great Movie Ride

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Great Movie Ride Characters


At first glance, the Tree of Life seemed to be lacking in size. But what it lacked in stature, it made up in detail. Upon closer inspection, you could see that the trunk was covered in animals, just like the real thing.


Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Tree of Life


The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm was very cute. It even included the Pepto-Bismol Castle created for Disney World's 25th anniversary.


Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm

Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm


And finally there was Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show with the Opal that was designed to run backwards.


Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show

Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show


It was obvious the CMs were having a great time and the guests seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Watching this parade made me feel good - as if I had a special connection with the Port Orleans staff. I had fun today! I'm glad I experienced this almost completely unpublicized Disney moment.

So remember, if you're staying at Port Orleans next year just before Lent, ask for details at the Front Desk when you check-in so you can witness next year's parade.



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