Interview with 20Ker John Goff
John served on 20K in 1985-6. I'd like to thank him for taking the time to answer my questions. He's not sure if he's related to the legendary Harper Goff, designer of the Disney Nautilus, but let's just say he is for the excitement of it.
How did you end up working on 20K?
I was working in characters, and I wanted to escape the zoo so I talked to a family friend in Operations and she swung me the 20K gig.
At what point in your life did you sign on? What years?
I was a Senior in High School when I transferred to 20K. That would be 85 - 86.
Where there hazing ritual for new recruits?
Not like what most people might consider "hazing". Just the usual water in the ear from the little hole in the sail. Got that my first two days after I trained. Never got the radio antenna though.
Were the 20Kers a tighter knit group than other ride crews? If so, why do you think such camaraderie developed?
Of course. When you work with people in that kind of environment, you get close. Kinda like actually "serving" on the real Nautilus. If you had to spend countless amounts of time stuck in a sub with say 35 other guys you'd either kill them or become good friends. I liked that about 20K. There was a sense of pride in what you did. You felt more like you were part of the show than just asking people "how many?" and saying "watch your step" all day. That's one of the reasons I asked for Jungle Cruise when I became a cast member again.
What was your favorite section of the ride (i.e. Atlantis, the giant squid)?
The squid. Definitely the squid. "Good ! It's one of ours!" I loved that trick.
Were your friends jealous of your job or did they make fun of you?
Nope. Most of them thought it was cool.
Did you enjoy your job? What aspect did you enjoy/dislike the most?
Being a musician, I love to perform. And what better way to do it than at 20K. It was easy to act the part if you were "into" the movie. I hated the greeter spot. Trying to keep people out of the middle of the street was a bitch. I wish I had a dollar for every person who asked me what time the 3:00 parade is. And what's sad is this: THEY STILL DO.
How seriously did people take their 20K jobs?
Most of the guys were took it very seriously. The potential for guest or cast member injury was common at 20K. You had to or else people got hurt. As far as the theme? Each to his own.
Did piloting one of those subs fire up your imagination just like riding them did for the people below?
Yup. See above.
Did you get a kick out of seeing kids and adults enjoy the ride?
Always. Still do.
Did any kid ever ask if you were Nemo or talk to you like you were really a submariner?
Every now and then.
Many people feel 20K was the best ride at Disney world. Why do you feel the ride had such an impact?
Please. Who wouldn't find riding in a submarine cool. Especially when you throw in life-like sea creatures and awesome special FX. Kicked my butt when I was a kid.
Others feel the ride was slow, boring and fake looking. What you think you think they're missing that others clearly respond to?
There's a skeptic in every group. I've learned that you just can't please some people no matter how hard you try. Just appreciate the ride for what it is and let your imagination take over from there. That's what they were missing. IMAGINATION.
Would you have been scared to swim in the ride tank at night?
No I wouldn't have been scared to, but you would have to answer to the supervisors if you did. And they didn't have a good sense of humor. I had heard the stories, but the only people I knew of that swam in the lagoon were the repair divers. They said that they had to wash their hair several times to get out all the fuel residue. Not for me. No thanks.
-What was the oddest/craziest/funniest thing you ever did or saw happen involving the ride?
I remember one guy climbing on a sub (the outside) and riding the fin like a horse all the way around. Quite funny to watch.
Do you keep in touch with other 20Kers after you left Disney World?
Nope, I lost touch.
Did you come back to ride it often after you stopped working there?
Anytime I was in the park.
Why do you think the ride was shut down?
Simple. To expensive to maintain.
How did you feel when you heard it was shut down?
I was very disappointed. I got even more upset when I found out they gave the last 20kers full costumes. What I wouldn't give to have a hat or a jacket in my closet.
What would you like to see done with the area?
BRING 20K BACK!!!!!