Several years ago I had an advanced college internship at Walt Disney World. I really enjoyed it. Not only did I get to make some new friends and have some great learning experiences, but I got to have a glimpse behind the Disney Curtain to the backstage. Here are 7 questions about Disney Cast Members Answered .
7 Questions and Answers about Disney Cast Members
1 – Why can’t Disney Cast Members Point?
This is the tell tale sign of a Cast Member, they point using an open hand or two fingers. Why do we point this way? In many cultures pointing with a sing finger is considered rude. And the last thing we want to do is insult anyone (see 2). So that’s why we point funny, but the funny thing about this trait? When a Cast Member is not working, we tend to keep pointing this way. So it’s easy to spot a Cast Member in the parks! (See 5)
2 – What do Disney Cast Members do?
The vast majority of cast members work for Disney because, well they love Disney! Cast members enjoy making sure that you have a good time while at the park and genuinely want your vacation to be fun and magical. But technically a Cast Member can be an employee working rides in the park to the head of the company. Although I have yet to see Robert Iger wear a cast name tag.
I was and intern in the advertising department while I was a cast member, which basically meant filing brochures and maps ALL DAY. It was boring… like most internships are. But one cool thing is I could earn overtime working in the parks on the weekend, which I really enjoyed. I loved selling popcorn at Fantasmic! and pretzels in EPCOT. Why? because I loved talking and interacting with the guests – the cute families that were on cloud nine and having a good time with each other. It was a great way for me see Disney beyond my windowless temperature controlled file room.
Also as a Disney Cast Member I got opportunities to volunteer – I handed out school supplies and sang in the Christmas Choir at EPCOT!
3 – How do Disney Cast Members Stay Cool?
Honestly sometimes we don’t. We get hot and take breaks (and drink lots of water). We can get a little hot under the collar. We get that you’re on vacation. It might be a once in a lifetime trip. But for us it’s Tuesday, it’s 90 degrees and we’ve been listening to the same music on repeat to the point that when we leave it will continue to play in our head. Even Cast Members can have a rough day but a smile and politeness from you, the guest does a lot. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that you get to leave common courtesy at home. Cast members are not animatronic (despite rumors) we have feelings. As I mentioned above we like helping you have a good time, but sometimes we need a little help from you to get in the right frame of mind. Be polite to us, and sometimes magical things can happen. ( see 4)
4 – What Super Powers do Cast Members Have?
Sometimes Cast Members can make your trip extra magical, especially if things aren’t working out. Now you need to be careful with this one, and I’m not giving you free range to complain every chance you get – let me make that very clear. But if something is wrong or is causing a serious kink in your vacation, tell a Cast Member and they just might be able to pull out some pixie dust to help smooth things over.
I’ll give you a couple of examples: One time at Disneyland we were waiting to see Darth Vader, but it was so close to our dinner reservation we needed to get out of line so we wouldn’t miss it. My 5 year son fussed and was really disappointed, an attentive Cast Member came over and asked what was wrong. We explained to her our situation and you know no biggie that’s life. She gave us her name and said if we came back by 7, to find her and she would help us. So we went to dinner (and a much needed break for mom and dad). We came back found the cast member and she got us into to see Lord Vader quickly. Nice super power, right? It made my son very happy and was a nice addition to our trip.
Another time our hotel rooms were way late in being ready for us (after a red eye) and we got some extra fast passes from the check in clerk. We had some extra fun and made things better.
We can do little things like this to make your trip magical. So it pays to patiently explain your situation to a Cast Member – but don’t a be a squeaky wheel jerk about every little wrong thing OK?
5 – What are Disney Cast Member Benefits?
One of the perks of working at Disney? Going to the parks and taking your family to the parks! Many Cast Members enjoy going to the parks just as much as you do. So how do you spot a an “off duty” Cast Member? One is the special point that I mentioned, another is someone who seems to know A LOT about what’s going on and how to navigate the park. Also if you see them randomly pick up a piece of trash and through it away (that wasn’t theirs) you’ve spotted a Cast Member. Very often you’ll run into a really helpful person/ family one of them (or several) will be a current or former Cast Member.
6 – Can Disney Cast Members Accept Tips?
There’ s a reason that you’re politeness and gratitude can go a long way with a Cast Member. Most of us can’t accept tips or gifts (even small ones). With exception of a few (waiters, bell hops) Cast Member’s can’t accept anything (I mean REALLY can’t – if a Cast Member takes a tip it can lead to being fired). So if one of them has gone above and beyond to help you – be sure to thank them and tell their supervisor. You can also tweet @waltdisneyworld or @disneyland and tell them about the awesome help you received.
7 – Why do Cast Members work for Disney?
I still use the customer service skills I learned at Disney. It taught me how to be cool under pressure. How it’s important to view people as “guests” and not customers. And yes I still occasionally use the two finger point! But the biggest thing I learned way that to maintain a company culture of excellence you need have a vision that everyone believes in. Disney is a fun place to visit because everyone – the Guests, the Cast Members believe that it’s the “Happiest Place on Earth”. It’s that joint belief that makes it a wonderful place to visit (and work).
We’re really looking forward to our next trip to Disney! My little boy is so excited to see all the new Star Wars attractions! I would love for you to start planning your next trip – my friends at Get Away Today would love to help you! You can get more information here!