When Ray Sidejas started working at Disneyland in 1964 as a busboy, things were quite different.
The park would close on Mondays and Tuesdays during the fall and Walt Disney himself would roam Disneyland. And the department Sidejas worked in was called Janitorial, not Custodial.
Now, nearly 50 years later, Disneyland and California Adventure are open seven days a week and, like Disney himself, Sidejas has becoming a part of Disneyland's rich heritage.
Sidejas, operations manager of custodial guest services, is retiring after 46 years of maintaining Disney's vision of a sparkling-clean amusement park.
Sidejas said a friend constantly pressured him to apply at Disneyland.
"I already had a job; I didn't want a job here," said Sidejas, 66. "I was particularly happy working for an insurance company in Santa Ana."
Sidejas finally applied for busboy in October of 1964 and did not expect to be hired. When he returned to his home in Santa Ana, 15 minutes after applying, his mother told him someone from Disney had called and left a message. After returning the call, Sidejas was hired over the phone.
"I was stunned," he said. "Later on, I found out that busboy wasn't one of the most popular jobs to put in for."
Sidejas went to work in the newly formed Janitorial Operations, part of the round-the-clock crew that constantly kept Disneyland clean.
"They didn't call themselves "sweepers' or "bussers,' " Sidejas said. "We were called "janis.'"
As he worked, Sidejas often saw Walt Disney walking through Disneyland.
"There was something unique about Walt in the sense that you could tell that he enjoyed being here," Sidejas said. "And obviously, he picked those Mondays and Tuesdays when Disneyland was closed so that he could enjoy walking through his Magic Kingdom."
Sidejas frequently saw Disney sitting on a bench overlooking the Rivers of America.
"I got the impression that he came here to kind of get away from the hassle and the situations that he probably was faced with at the studio," Sidejas said. "We were wondering what he was thinking about. I think Walt came here to think about the future."
Aside from watching the water, Sidejas said Disney also liked to watch the janis at work.
"It was a little disconcerting at first, because Walt Disney was watching us," Sidejas said. "Then Walt would come and ask us what we were doing."
Sidejas worked at Disneyland and his other job until he graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in police science in 1969, with the goal of becoming a policeman.
Chuck Boyajain, then manager of custodial operations, encouraged him to apply for a management position.
"I always thought I was going to be a police officer, but I was working in "The Happiest Place on Earth.' Those two things are like not in sync with one another," Sidejas said. "I was actually beginning to realize where I should be going is staying with Disney and dealing with the happy side of people because it makes you happy."
Sidejas applied for the management position and received the job.
"I didn't think I was going to get offered the job, but I didn't turn it down," he said. "It was the best decision I ever made."
As Disney's reach spread throughout the world, Sidejas was instrumental in helping ingrain the Disney culture into new workers. He was chosen as part of a grand-opening team at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Euro Disney, which was later re-named Disneyland Paris.
"It's something that you never forget when you get to go off to places like that and deal with different cultures," Sidejas said. "And you get to introduce the Disney culture to these other societies an cultures."
In 2011, he was one of 96 employees at the Disneyland Resort to receive the Walt Disney Legacy Award, given to recipients nominated by colleagues for going above and beyond in their jobs as well as representing Disney's legacy to dream, create and inspire.
Times have changed.
"Originally, we were supposed to be silent and not talk, but guest would talk to custodial cast members and ask them questions," he said. "We realized that we need to change how we trained our custodial cast."
Today's custodians are taught to be helpful and engage the guests, including carrying pouches with extra maps and stickers for children. Sidejas said it is the interaction with park-goers he will miss the most.
"I like the activity of the unexpected," he said. "I like the fact you see adults interacting with their kids. When parents bring their children here, the parents re-live their own first experience."
Even though he won't be wearing a cast-member badge, Sidejas said his retirement will not take him far from Disney.
"My wife (Josie) and I are going to Walt Disney World," he said. "She and I have never had a real vacation. I want to experience Disney World because I helped open that place."