Carl Casebeer’s Disneyland story started the same day the park opened, on July 17, 1955. No, he wasn’t one of the first cast members. He was a second grader at a local school in Anaheim. His class and many others were invited to the park for opening day. So they boarded buses and were off on an adventure into this new place on Harbor Boulevard. “I spent the whole time in Fantasyland. We were not allowed to go to the other lands,” Carl said.
The memory of that opening day stuck with him so much that when he turned 18 and was finishing up at Anaheim High School, he applied for and got a job at Disneyland, starting with cracking jokes as a skipper on the world famous Jungle Cruise in 1965. Two years later, he was part of the opening crew for Pirates of the Caribbean.
“I really enjoyed working on Pirates,” Carl said, admitting to occasionally joining fellow cast members in pulling a prank on park guests. “We would go out into the ride and stand there like we were one of the Audio-Animatronics pirates. The Tour Guides knew who we were and would point us out,” he said. Somehow, they didn’t get in trouble for that
It was a different story while working on the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. “I got my only reprimand there when I derailed a train once because I threw the switch at the wrong time.” (No one was hurt in the incident.)
Eventually, he worked on every attraction in Adventureland and Frontierland, including stints as foreman on both shooting galleries. One day, while working at the Adventureland Shooting Gallery, Walt Disney brought his grandson over to shoot. “I didn’t get money or a C coupon from him, so I was short that night.”
A few years later, while working as foreman of the Mark Twain and Columbia Sailing Ship, his sharp eyes saw something he liked. “I spotted a beautiful girl at the entrance to the Golden Horseshoe Review. She had a short dress on and cut an attractive figure. I kept seeing her over there, so I asked the Horseshoe’s foreman about her availability. Turned out she was not taken, so I asked her out.”
That girl was Sue Anderson, who had gotten the job after showing off her legs.
“They made me stand up and show them my legs when I was being hired to see if I could work at the Golden Horseshow,” she said. (At the time, the costumes for female food hostesses at the Horseshoe were short skirts.)
Working at the Horseshoe could be a challenge. “One time I dropped a whole tray of cups filled with Pepsi on a guest,” Sue recalled. Another time while cleaning up on the upper level after a show, Sue says she found somewhat startling evidence that a couple up there had been doing more than just watching the show.
Carl and Sue’s first date was at a small employee party held in Frontierland. “I knew she was a good catch when she let me finish her steak on that date,” Carl said. They kept dating and Sue kept waiting tables at the Horseshoe. She eventually left to work as a flight attendant at Western Airlines but that lasted less than a year, as they married on August 22, 1970. “I was always on call, and I was getting married and they (the airlines) discouraged it (marriage) at that time,” she said.
Carl stayed at Disneyland and went on to become an assistant supervisor for Attractions in Tomorrowland. In 1974, he left Disneyland to become a Fotomat manager and eventually went into pharmaceutical sales—a career that lasted 30 years until 2010.
For many years, Sue created homemade ceramic souvenirs, some of which (ceramic chess sets) were even sold at Disneyland. She now makes sculptural jewelry that she and Carl sell at art shows in Oregon, where they have lived for years. Samples of her current work can be found at thegreengypsy.vpweb.com.
Sue made enough money from her jewelry sales to pay for a special trip to Disneyland this year (2014) for their 44th anniversary—a trip that featured a reunion with most of their extended family, including three children and six grandchildren, inside Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom. Of course, they had to take the whole family on The Jungle Cruise, where they all tried to get Carl to do his old spiel, but he claimed the attraction had changed too much. “We had a fantastic skipper on the ride. Even our five-year-old grandchild, William, liked it,” Carl said.
The couple is already planning a Disney family reunion for their 50th anniversary in 2020. “We’re going to try and get everyone to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii,” Sue said. For the Casebeers, it’s been a truly Disney life.
This profile is part of a series featuring former Disney Cast Members being written for the Disneyland Alumni Club. These stories reveal the role working for Disney has played over the years in shaping the lives of the people who help “make the dream a reality,” as Walt would say.
In honor of the 60th anniversary year of Disneyland in 2015, the Disneyland Alumni Club is reaching out to former employees, whether retired or younger, who may not be aware of the organization. The Club was started in 1983 by Disneyland executives Van France and Dick Nunis as a way to help Cast Members stay in touch after moving on to other careers. Is that you? If so and you’d like to take part in the Club’s private celebration next August—or participate in their many other activities and benefits, please visit www.disneylandalumni.org and join today!
Here’s some previous stories about Disneyland Alumni:
This article and photographs are copyright 2014 by Mark Eades, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Photographs supplied by subjects are used by permission, all rights reserved.