Sources: Desert News | All Things Michael
“Magical” is the word commonly used by Disneyland lovers who find it easy to “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.”
Val DeVitis was in her 20s when she went to work at Disneyland on Nov. 16, 1968. It didn’t take long to build a love for her job, retiring 35 years later.
“I loved it there. I couldn’t wait to go to work,” she said.
She started in merchandising as a clerk typist and advanced to administrative assistant. Many of the years were spent in the park on Main Street USA, followed later at the Disneyland Hotel.
Most of all, she loved watching people’s faces as they came into the park.
“Kids and adults would be walking around in awe and disbelief at what they were seeing,” she said.
In 1986, her husband, Chuck DeVitis, also went to work at the park, as a security manager. Over 15 years, he was regularly called upon to escort celebrities through the park, including Jack Nicholson and Michael Jackson. Jackson came often, usually bringing a young Macaulay Culkin.
“One time, I was escorting him (Jackson) out the gate and he stopped by a news stand to the left of the gate. He goes to the stand to get a postcard and reached over a woman who did not recognize him and he enjoyed that,” Chuck recalled.
He also escorted Elizabeth Taylor to Fantasyland, where she celebrated her 60th birthday with a private party.
“She was pretty as a picture,” he said.
Disneyland had a magical appeal even to the celebrities, he said.
“You’d see them light up. I don’t care who they were.”
Photos of Mickey Mouse and Goofy, signed by co-workers at their retirement, are among the items that decorate some of the walls of their Desert Hot Springs home and are just a handful of the memorabilia they have stashed away.
“I have some great memories of working there,” Val DeVitis said.
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