Thursday, June 21, 2012

Disney California Adventure - retiring of the colors

We'd had the opportunity to attend the annual passholder preview event of the new Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure on Saturday, June 9, 2012.  After we'd spent hours having a blast at Cars Land, we spent some time meandering through Buena Vista Street as well, admiring all the work that's been done there, and while the Red Car Trolley wasn't running that day, there was a trolley parked near the entrance to the park, so we went in and sat and chatted with the conductor cast member in the trolley for a while.  While we were inside, I was looking around at Buena Vista Street, and as I looked toward the front of the park, I noticed there was a new flagpole there.  I mentioned it to the cast member and asked if that meant there was going to be flag retreat in this park as well, and I jokingly wondered how Ernie, a Security cast member who is almost always working the flag retreat at Disneyland, was going to do two flag retreats a day.  The cast member mentioned that Ernie was indeed involved in training other cast members to do the DCA flag retreat, so we were pleased to hear that.

When Cars Land and Buena Vista Street officially opened on June 15, we were pretty busy that day, and we didn't get a chance to check on flag retreat at all.  I found out from a friend that the retiring of the colors happens about a quarter to 5pm with no ceremony, so I went back to the park on June 16 to see what it involved.

I got to the main entrance at about 4:30pm and just hung out by the trolley stop.

The flagpole inside the entrance of Disney California Adventure.

At about 4:50pm, I noticed some cast members come out and they were sort of directing traffic around the flagpole, but nothing else was happening yet.  I had walked around the flagpole when I'd first arrived and noticed that it's not like the flagpole at Disneyland in that it doesn't have a rope hanging from the outside that lowers and raises the flags.  The flags are connected to a short rope, the rest of which presumable hangs inside the flagpole.  At the bottom part of the rope is a small chain that loops around the flagpole, which weights the flags down a bit and keeps them close to the flagpole.  On the side of the pole facing Oswald's, there's a small door in the pole just above the base that requires a key to unlock.

Around 5pm, I noticed another cast member come out, and he went to the flag pole and unlocked the little door.

Cast member on base unlocking door in pole.

After he was done, you could see that there was a little crank protruding out of the door.  I don't know if he put the little crank on there or if he just pulled it out from inside the door.  Once he was done, the crank was left there but the cast members weren't clearing the area anymore.

People are allowed to sit on the flagpole base as the crank sticks out the little door.

After a little while, I could tell that one cast member was talking to another cast member to explain what was going to happen next.  I looked in the direction he pointed, and an honor guard was on their way, adjacent to the Five and Dime.  The cast members near the flagpole stopped the pedestrian traffic long enough for the honor guard to march across the street to the flagpole.

The honor guard marching toward the flagpole.

The honor guard at the flagpole.

One of the guards went to the flagpole and prepared to operate the crank to lower the flags.

Guard at flagpole, ready to lower the flags.

The other two guards saluted while the third guard operated the crank that lowered the flags.  The cast members were standing at a perimeter to the flagpole to prevent anyone from walking through that area, but otherwise, pedestrian traffic was allowed on the street.  Keep in mind that there had been no announcement, and there was no music other than the normal music being played on Buena Vista Street.  There was absolutely no attention being drawn to this event other than the presence of the various cast members and guards.  Some guests did sit/stand around watching the ceremony.

After both flags were lowered and disconnected, the honor guard folded both flags.

Once they were done folding the flags, the honor guard prepared to leave, and once again, the cast members stopped pedestrian traffic on the street long enough for the guards to march off with the folded flags.

The crux of the main ceremony was the same as at Disneyland (obviously without a band, without the Dapper Dans and without the military salutes), though admittedly, the details of the marching and stopping and repositioning of the guards and the folding of the flags wasn't as crisp as I was used to seeing at Disneyland.

I don't know if Ernie is actually working on training guards to do a flag retreat ceremony at DCA.  I hope it is true.  If it's not currently true, I hope it soon becomes true.  There are some logistic problems that need to be solved because the flagpole isn't as contained as it is at Disneyland, but I'm sure Ernie would have no problem finding suitable solutions.  It may be that everyone was so concerned about getting Cars Land and Buena Vista Street up and running for the preview days and for official opening day that they didn't think about the flags having to be lowered, so they haven't worked out the details of a proper flag retreat ceremony for DCA yet.  I hope that sometime soon, guests will be able to observe flag retreat ceremonies at both Disneyland and DCA.

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