A Marriage Made in Disneyland Maintenance
by Mark Eades
Maintaining a marriage can be a challenge, but when both work in maintenance, it makes it easier. Mary Ann and Jerry Meirowsky met in Disneyland’s Maintenance Department, where Jerry was known as “The Disco King.” Mary Ann admitted, “I began scheming to get him by taking Disco Dance lessons he was teaching.”
Jerry began working for the park in July 1970, after seeing a job opening at the union hall for machinists. Jerry had never really been to Disneyland. “I visited the park before I started the job and my first impression was, ‘Wow!’”
Mary Ann, who came on board in April 1972 as a secretary in the Staff Shop, always knew she’d work at Disneyland because she loved the Mickey Mouse Club when it was on television in the 1950s. “As a kid I told my parents I was going to work for Disney.” Her first visit was in 1958 for her 13th birthday. “We couldn’t afford it; it was a birthday present.”
The pair would see each other at the occasional “attitude adjustment” parties held by the department at local restaurants and lounges. They started dating in 1980 and as their love grew, the plot thickened. In the early 1980s, construction began on Tokyo Disneyland and Jerry was slated to go to Japan for a year to work on the project. Naturally, he was scheduled to go as a single person. Only his son and daughter would be allowed to visit. When Mary Ann found out, she gave him what is best termed as an ultimatum: “Either you marry me or I’m not going to wait around.” They were married in March 1982. “She only married me to get to go to Tokyo for free,” Jerry said with a wink.
Throughout their years at Disneyland, their careers blossomed. Jerry became an animation supervisor and eventually became the Facilities Manager for Disney California Adventure, while Mary Ann eventually became a buyer for Walt Disney Specialty Products. Clearly, they’d moved from maintenance to growth!
As a maintenance supervisor, Jerry was in charge of Disneyland rehabs for several years. That led to one of his funniest memories. “I was thrown into the Sub Lagoon by the divers after a rehab...I knew it was coming. I did not have any personal belongings in my pants”
Mary Ann recalls working during the strike in the 1980s. “I was cleaning Walt’s apartment and I was watering the plants only to see all the water run out. That’s when I realized they were plastic.”
In 2002, Disneyland (along with the rest of the country) experienced a downturn that led to layoffs and, for long-term employees like Mary Ann, forced retirements. She had to do it, but she did not have to like it. “We were very much like a family and I loved that. It didn’t seem right.”
Still, she enjoys the park and the people who worked there and currently serves as a member of the board of directors and Secretary for the Disneyland Alumni Club. She also regularly visits the Disney theme parks with her husband, who retired in 2010. “I love watching the little kids when they see the walk-around characters. It chokes me up.”
Jerry’s favorite Disneyland Resort attraction is California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure. “I like the adrenaline rush.” Mary Ann likes “it’s a small world” because “It makes you happy,” she said, and will hum the song. She really will.
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 are some previous stories about Disneyland Alumni:
This article and photographs of the couple taken at Disneyland are copyright 2014 by Mark Eades, all rights reserved. Used by permission. The photographs supplied by the subjects are used by permission, all rights reserved.