I thought it would be interesting if I posted a series of chapters from Habst and the Disney Saboteurs, along with the backstage photos I used to research those chapters.
This first chapter takes place in the Carousel of Progress. HUGE thanks to Hoot Gibson of Mesa Verde Times and F77 fame, and Mitch from Imagineering Disney for posting these pictures on their blogs, sending me additional pictures, and talking me through the floorplan and backstage layout.
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Habst and Monika skipped over to the Carousel of Progress, holding hands and smiling like little kids.
When they got close to the entrance ramp, Habst realized that he had no plan to get around to the back of the building without being noticed. The Cast Member at the greeting station could easily see anyone trying to sneak under the chains cordoning off the back of the building. The whole plan might be DOA.
“Oh, that poor little girl,” said Monika, pointing.
Habst turned to her, confused.
“That little girl’s father just slapped her, told her to stop crying, and then threw her Mouse Ears into the trash can! What an asshole!”
“That’s really sad and all, Monika, but I’m trying to figure out some way to get backstage without being seen, and I can’t really be concerned about….”
She ignored him and walked towards the Carousel of Progress, still staring at the man who had slapped his daughter.
“Okay… so I guess I’ll just wait here and try to think of something, then?” asked Habst.
Monika approached the female Cast Member at the greeting station, whispered something into her ear, and pointed at the abusive father, who was entering a Companion Restroom next to Space Mountain with his daughter. The Cast Member gasped, grabbed her radio, and ran towards the man, yelling, “Sam 12, we have a situation! Need all the dwarfs you’ve got for a 514!”
Habst ran up to Monika, who was standing at the top of the Carousel ramp, smiling smugly.
“Holy shit, Monika, what the hell was that all about?”
“I told her that I was an off-duty Cast Member, and that I’d just seen that man slap his daughter and then put his hand down her pants and fondle her.”
“Security will be dealing with that situation for a while. Let’s get moving before the CM comes back to her station.”
Habst shook his head in disbelief as he watched the Cast Member point at the restroom and whisper into Smelly’s ear. Smelly quickly pulled a key out of his pocket, opened the door, and stood aside as Angry pulled the father out of the restroom and threw him on the ground. Angry, Smelly, and the father were immediately surrounded by ten other security guards, who formed a circle around them. The last thing Habst saw before the circle cut off his view was Angry and Smelly repeatedly punching and kicking the father.
“Wow, I just… wow. You are one crazy bitch. Remind me never to cross you again.”
“Never cross me again, Habst!” she yelled, smacking his ass. “Now lead the way, my fearless explorer.” She hooked her arm through his. “Adventure awaits around every corner!”
“Yeah… sure,” said Habst, tearing his gaze from the scene of havoc his girlfriend had caused. “I guess we should get going….”
Habst put his fake ID around his neck, pulled out his phone, checked the settings, and started recording. He pointed the camera at Monika, who blew a kiss at it and flashed her tits.
“Nice,” said Habst. “Maybe I’ll get an extra virtcoin for those.”
They ducked under the chains and made their way down the walkway until they reached two black doors a full one hundred and eighty degrees from the main entrance of the ride. They were now hidden from view, at least from anyone in the park.
Carousel of Progress layout
Monika opened one of the doors, which led to a concrete ramp. They both walked down the ramp and into a small circular hallway that wrapped around the core of the building. Throughout the hallway were doors that led to rooms directly under the stages. They opened the first door, entered a pie-slice-shaped room, and heard the show going on above them. John, the patriarch of the family, talked about the rat race, and his daughter Patty was trying to lose weight while blabbing to Babs about her dreamboat date. Massive motors on either side of the room powered turntables that rotated to reveal different characters over the course of the scene.
Habst walked towards the outer edge of the building and yanked at a door labeled “Machinery Room”. The door wouldn’t budge.
“It’s locked,” said Habst, jiggling the knob. “This sucks. I’m supposed to film this stuff.”
“Move out of the way,” said Monika. “You’re useless.”
She pulled a bobby pin and a small flathead screwdriver out of her purse, stuck the pin into the lock, put the end of the flathead in the bottom of the lock, turned it to apply pressure, and raked the pin back and forth. After a few seconds, the lock clicked. She rotated the flathead clockwise and opened the door.
“That was maybe the hottest thing I’ve ever seen any woman do,” said Habst.
“Well, it’s a skill you learn pretty quickly when you want to party, but your bitch of a mother has locked you in your bedroom for the night.”
They walked down a dark path under the theater’s seating area, and into a small room. Inside the dingy, dirty alcove were mechanisms that controlled the movement of the main turntable. As the theater rotated, Habst shot close-ups of the main motor and all of the pulleys, gears, and chains that worked together to move the audience from scene to scene. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what sort of power was needed to move six theaters full of people around that central shaft, but the motor was huge, and it was noisy.
“I love heavy machinery,” said Monika
She pressed herself against the wall directly under the motor and moaned.
“Habst, it’s like the most powerful vibrator ever!”
“Get away from that!”
“Uhhhhh,” she said, her voice modulating with the rhythm of the motor.
“C’mon!” said Habst, trying to pull her away.
The motor stopped, and a large glob of grease fell onto his head.
“What the hell?”
He touched the top of his head and then looked at his hand. It was covered in jet-black lubricant.
“Serves you right,” said Monika. “Trying to stop me from getting off. Asshole.”
“Getting you off is my job, dammit!”
“The motor does it better.”
“You’ve never complained before.”
“I’ve never had a thousand-watt vibrator before. You know what they say, ‘Once you go Carousel of Progress turntable motor, you never go back.’”
“That doesn’t even rhyme.”
“You don’t even rhyme.”
“What? Shut up. Help me get this crap off my head!”
She looked around and found a dirty shop rag on the floor. She picked it up with her fingertips, held it at arms length, and handed it to Habst. It was stiff.
“Gross,” he said.
He dabbed his head with it, realized he was just getting his hair even dirtier, and threw it on the ground.
“Screw it,” he said, running his hands through his hair and slicking it back.
“You look like Ronald Reagan,” said Monika.
“Yeah. Your hair is all black and slicked back. It’s sexy.”
“You’re seventeen. How the hell do you even know what Ronald Reagan looks like?”
“Hall of Presidents? Duh. I gave a guy a blowjob in there a few years back, and ever since then I’ve had a thing for Reagan.”
“Give me a goddamned break.” He wiped his hands on his jeans. “Let’s go.”
They exited the machinery room, went back down to the circular hallway, and walked counterclockwise to the next room. Upon opening the door, they heard two 8mm projectors whirring away. Lying on the floor was a huge box full of broken and split filmstrips. Monika pulled one strip out of the box and held it up to the light.
“Hey,” said Monika, “it’s the boxing match that Grandma is watching in the Halloween scene!”
Grandma (upstairs view)
Boxing match filmstrips
“Cool,” said Habst, shoving the filmstrip into his backpack.
Moving to the next room, Habst could hear Grandma winning at a virtual reality space pilot game directly above them. He turned the camera upward, and filmed the pumps, fluid lines, valves, and filters that controlled the motion of the animatronic figures above. Thick steel plates were bolted to the ceiling where the figures were mounted. Small stress cracks spread from each plate, but the damage to the concrete didn’t seem to be significant.
They walked to the next room, which was much darker than the others. Habst pulled a flashlight from his backpack and turned it on, pointing it towards the wall.
The flashlight illuminated a severed animatronic head. It was Sarah, the mother of the show, hairless, with her eyes gouged out and the skin of her left cheek torn and hanging grotesquely over her mouth. As Habst move the flashlight around they saw shelves filled with spools of wire, crusty pumps and split valves, and entire animatronic bodies, stripped of their skin, missing various body parts, and contorted into disturbing positions.
Busted Animatronics in the CoP basement
“This is creepy as hell,” said Habst, filming the whole thing.
“I’m freaking out, Habst. Can we get out of here? Like, now?!”
They went back to the hallway, and Habst pointed to a stairway in the center core, opposite the rooms they’d been exploring.
“There,” he said, pointing to the stairs. “We have to go up, shoot the backside of the Christmas stage, and get some different angles of the figures. Then we can get out of here.”
“Ladies first,” said Habst, motioning to the steep stairway.
Monika started climbing. Habst filmed her going up a few stairs, and then followed, positioning the camera so it shot up her skirt. He stopped climbing and zoomed into her pink thong, which fell a few millimeters short of covering what it was made to cover.
“I’m gonna get so much Google ad revenue from this if I ever make it public,” said Habst.
Monika looked down, saw what he was doing, and instinctively kicked him in the face. He fell backward, tumbled down the stairs, and landed on the concrete floor.
Monika finished climbing the stairs and looked down at him.
“Is your phone okay?” she asked.
“Stop being such a pussy, Habst. Are you still recording?”
Habst lifted his hand, checked the phone, and verified that it was indeed still recording.
“It’s okay. It’s still filming.”
“Good,” said Monika. “Then quit perving around and get your ass up here.”
Habst sat up and groaned.
“I’m okay, by the way. Thanks for asking. I’m fine. My nuts are halfway up my ass, but other than that, I’m perfect.”
He stood, stretched, and felt and heard what he assumed was a disc slipping back into place. He groaned and climbed up the steps, which opened into a large circular room, sparsely lit by cheap fluorescent overhead lights. He could see small sections of each of the turntable sets, flanked by scrims and dark wooden flats which made up the backside of their backdrops.
Backstage at CoP
Backstage at CoP
Monika opened a door and disappeared behind one of the flats. Habst followed. He looked to his left, and saw her standing midway across the backdrop.
“Come over here, and then look around this corner very slowly,” she said, pointing forward.
He did as instructed, and found himself looking straight at the faces of at least a dozen people sitting in the Carousel Theater. He yanked his head back, surprised.
Habst looked around. Apparently, they were behind the kitchen in the Christmas scene.
“Jackpot,” he said.
He positioned the camera just over the window ledge to the right of the John animatronic, and slowly panned it around from one end of the set to the other.
Backstage of the "Christmas" Scene
He pulled the camera back, looked to his left, and saw that the walkway between the set and the backdrop curved around the corner.
He motioned to Monika to follow him. She nodded.
Continuing to film, he got on his hands and knees and crawled past the windows. His hands kept pressing into screws, bits of wire, and large chunks of splintered wood. He was glad he was wearing jeans.
He turned the corner, verified that this side of the set was a solid wall with no openings to the audience, and stood up.
Habst looked back to see Monika wincing. Since she’d worn a skirt, her knees were bare, and the trash covering the dirty wooden walkway had cut her up pretty badly.
“This sucks,” she said, brushing herself off as she stood up.
“Sorry about that. We’re almost done.”
He filmed the back of the kitchen set, capturing the pneumatic pump that blew open the oven door when John’s voice commands overloaded it. He also filmed the pump and atomizer that produced the smoke that comes from the burned turkey inside the oven.
Behind the "Christmas" scene
“Okay, that should be enough,” whispered Habst. He stopped recording, uploaded the video to YouTube with the private option selected, added the DisGeek1966 account to the access list, and put his phone away.
“Mission accomplished,” said Habst.
He was more relaxed now that his job was done, and was actually getting a little excited about exploring the rest of the sets.
“You up for looking around some more?”
“I guess. Not too much longer, though, okay?” She looked down at her dirty, bloody knees. “I need to get cleaned up. So do you, Mr. President.”
“Cut that crap out. Let’s just see what’s over here, and then we’ll leave, okay?”
She nodded, and they crossed over to another stage. Habst opened the door leading to the set, and they stepped into a beautiful backdrop of a sunny outdoor scene, complete with clothes drying on a clothesline.
Unfortunately, once again, there were windows in front of the backdrop, so if they walked a few steps further, the audience would be able to see them.
“Dammit,” said Habst.
They doubled back to the main room. Habst looked to his right and pointed.
Uncle Orville himself lay in his bathtub in the rotating side-stage vignette next to them. His skin ended at his torso, which was hidden from the audience by the bathtub. Below the waist Uncle Orville was simply a mess of metal and wires. His skin did resume mid-thigh, although he had a speaker conspicuously placed directly between his legs where his man-bits should have been.
“Poor Uncle Orville is a neuter!” said Monika.
“No privacy at all around this place,” he said, and kissed her.
Uncle Orville’s vignette started to rotate counterclockwise. The small turntable that the set rested on creaked, and Habst could feel the vibration of the powerful motor in the basement as it moved hundreds of pounds of sets and animatronics.
“Here we go!” said Habst, leaning forward and patting Uncle Orville’s leg as it passed by. “Orville, buddy, it’s your time to shine!”
Monika giggled. Habst ran his fingers through his hair, and kissed her again. The floor continued to vibrate, and he reached out to the wall for support. His greasy hand slipped, and he fell forward, head-butting Monika.
“Oh shit! Sorry!”
She fell backward, and instinctively put her hands behind her to stop her fall. A second after she hit the ground, she started screaming.
Habst looked down and saw that her right hand was caught between the static wall of the main set, and the thick moving partition separating Uncle Orville’s scene from Jimmy’s scene on the other side of the turntable.
“Habst! It’s crushing my wrist!” screamed Monika.
“Holy shit!” yelled Habst.
He thrust his shoulder against the partition and pushed as hard as he could, but it wouldn’t budge. The motor was simply too powerful.
Monika screamed even louder as the force of the moving wall broke multiple bones and crushed her radial artery.
A few people in the audience heard the screaming and started looking at each other, wondering if it was rusty machinery, or if they were really hearing someone behind the set.
Habst put his back against the partition and pushed, using every ounce of strength that years of bike riding had given his leg muscles. This stopped it from closing further, but didn’t come close to moving it enough for Monika to be able to release her hand. His feet threatened to slide along the wooden floor, and he knew he couldn’t keep pushing for much longer. But if he let go, her hand would be severed.
Blood from Monika’s artery started shooting rhythmically onto the stage. Someone in the audience saw it, pointed, and screamed. The whole audience started freaking out, and the auditorium quickly turned into complete chaos.
“Somebody help!” yelled Habst through the crack between the partition and the stage wall. “I need some muscle back here! Help! This goddamned thing will cut her hand clean off!”
A small wiry man jumped on the stage, wedged his fingers into the gap between the stage and the base of the partition, and started pulling. The turntable moved a full inch. As astounding as this display of strength was, it didn’t create enough of a gap to free Monika’s hand, and the loss of pressure on her severed artery made her bleed out even more.
“Monika!” yelled Habst. “Holy shit! Mister! Mister! Help her!”
Habst craned his head sideways and looked pleadingly through the two-inch crack, glimpsing the thin outline of the face of the man on the other side.
He had a long, slim face, a well-manicured moustache, arched eyebrows, and dark, straight hair.
The man looked exactly like a young Walt Disney. Habst was momentarily stunned.
“Wake up, son! We need to coordinate our efforts!” said the man, speaking in a confident, familiar cadence.
“What?!” said Habst.
“Pulling at it won’t do a damn thing. Turntable motor’s too powerful. We need one quick burst of force to jump the chain from the sprockets. I’ll hold it in place. You get as far back as you can, get a running start, and slam into it with your shoulder. At the same time, I’ll give it a good hard tug.”
“Whatever you say, mister!”
Habst let go of the partition, flipped around, and ran to the other end of the room. He spun and bolted at the partition with as much speed as he could gather, yelling “One, two, three!” as he ran. On “three,” he slammed against the wall, shoulder first, putting the entire weight of his body into the blow.
At the same time, the man on the other side of the stage yanked at the base of the partition with what seemed to be superhuman force.
The motor underneath the turntable screeched, the chain attached to it jumped a sprocket, and the wall moved at least four more inches.
Monika’s hand slumped to the ground. Habst pulled it from the crack.
“You both clear?” yelled the man.
“Yeah!” said Habst.
“Good! Now get as far back from the turntable as you can!”
Habst scooted away from the set, pulling Monika with him.
“Okay!” said Habst.
The man let go of the partition and it slammed backwards with a force that shook the whole building.
Habst pulled off his shirt and wrapped it tightly around Monika’s wrist.
“Is the girl okay?” yelled the man from the other side of the stage.
“I don’t know!” said Habst. “She’s not conscious, but she’s still breathing!”
“That’s good, that’s good! I’m sure somebody has called for help. I’m sorry, but I have to leave!”
The man jumped off the stage and ran out the door.
“Thank you, Walt Disney!” screamed Habst at the top of his lungs.
Habst looked down at Monika and softly patted her cheek.
“Stay with me,” he said. “This was such a totally dumb idea. I never should have brought you with me.”
“You didn’t have a choice, asshole,” said Monika, opening her eyes and smiling weakly.
“Most exciting day of my life,” she said. “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
He held her tightly until three paramedics raced in. They loaded her onto a stretcher and wheeled her to the parking lot behind the building, where she was put into an ambulance and rushed to the Celebration ER.
Charlie breathlessly ran into the room seconds later, and Habst tried to lift himself off the floor, intending to make a run for it. But he’d dislocated his shoulder when he’d slammed into the wall. So, his arm gave out completely, and he fell to the floor, hit his head, and passed out.
He woke up a minute later to the sound of Charlie smacking him in the face.
“Wake up, Habst!” yelled Charlie.
“Cut it out!” said Habst.
Charlie knelt down next to him.
“I need to pop your shoulder back into place,” said Charlie.
“Where’s Walt Disney?” asked Habst.
“Walt Disney. He saved Monika.”
“You’re in a lot of pain. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“No… I swear… it was Walt….”
“Hold still. This is going to hurt.”
Charlie grabbed Habst’s forearm, pivoted it to a ninety-degree angle, and twisted it inward, popping his shoulder back into its socket.
Habst screamed and passed out again.
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Habst and the Disney Saboteurs can be found on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and B&N. I highly recommend the paperback version!