Disney World Cast Members Share The Behind The Scenes Stories They Wish The Public Knew About Working At Disney World

Disney World Cast Members Share The Behind The Scenes Stories They Wish The Public Knew About Working At Disney World

From magical experiences to absolute disaster, Disney World cast members have seen it all. While you're trying to enjoy a fun family vacation to the most magical place on earth, these people are hard at work. As they share behind the scenes stories, you'll find a whole new appreciation for Disney World: its rules, traditions and of course, its cast members.


35. They'll Catch Your Kids Most Devious Plans

At attractions, most things we do are for safety. When I worked at the Tower of Terror, we started doing the thing where we have all the guests put their hands up before we send the ride off. One time on my last vehicle of the night I only had one family, so we were being kind of casual and having a conversation. They all sat wherever they wanted throughout the vehicle, and as I did my safety checks, the dad asked me why we have everyone raise their hands. Just as he is asking this, his son raises his hands, and we all hear the sound of a seatbelt zipping into a tightened position. The kid was holding his seatbelt loose so that he would dangerously fly off the seat during the ride. All I said was, “because of that” and sent them off.

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34. Having Cute Kids Finally Pays Off


I can't speak for every cast member, but most of us want to work there because we want to be a part of the magic. And we are encouraged to be helpful and make things more magical.

When you are talking to cast members, be nice, kind, fun. Tell us fun things about your day when we ask you about it. Tell your kids to be adorable. You will probably GET FREE STUFF because we want to and can do nice stuff for nice or adorable people.

If you have a problem, getting angry and rude will result in us doing the bare minimum to fix it and make things right. Being nice about it and simply letting us know something is wrong, we will give you something better than what you ordered to fix it!

I worked at the ice cream shop on Main Street. About once or twice a day someone at some point would mess something up and give a guest a wrong order (even Disney makes mistakes). When someone would start immediately getting angry, we'd fix it and get them their proper things (usually adding some chocolate Mickey ears). But if someone was calm and understanding that mistakes happen when they let us know the mistake, we'd usually fix it with an absurd amount of ice cream, the toppings they want, and a cookie.

Also, IF YOU WANT FREE STUFF WEAR AN "I'M CELEBRATING" OR BIRTHDAY OR SOMETHING BUTTON. AND IF YOU CAN, A COSTUME OR A DISNEYBOUND. Cast members give a lot of free things or free upgrades out every day. Nine times out of 10 they go to people with buttons or costumes or whatever (if it wasn't just to people we had a nice conversation with).


33. There Are People Who Solve Problems, They Aren't Ride Attendants.

Talk to managers or Guest Relations or your server or someone who can get near a phone (NOT SOMEONE SENDING BOATS OUT AT PIRATES OR SOMEONE WHO IS RUNNING A CASH REGISTER OR IS ALONE AT A FOOD CART) if you have an issue. They can help you. They want to help you. They are there to help you. Waiting until after you leave the Parks and writing in or calling in does NOT get you anything special. We all work at the same company; we all provide the same compensation. If you don't want to spend the rest of your vacation in a funk get it together and taken care of before you leave and write in about how your food was too salty or how you got stuck on a ride.

Also, be nice to the people on the phones - whether it's reservations, ticket sales, or guest service. They will be happy to assist you with real concerns much more easily than if you are saying they suck at their jobs.


32. Disney Magic Is Not-So-Secretly... Money.

We have lost our minds in pursuit of quarterly growth to impress Wall Street. Nothing we do is for the guest; it’s to grow revenue or cut costs.

Example: Annual passport pricing was recently increased to dissuade lower-value guests from coming. We don’t need you. We will have enough people coming for Star Wars and paying full price. And if you do come for Star Wars, most of you won’t get into the land, let alone the rides. We currently have no plans to deal with this.

Other prices increase every year just because we can. We call it “taking our annual increase.” We know you can’t afford it, and we read all the Facebook comments about it being too expensive. But we will keep raising prices until the parks stop being full. And even when they are full, we will find ways to get more out of you by increasing food costs and reducing portion sizes. We have over a hundred people whose job it is to maximize revenue on things like food & beverage.

We increase parking costs to help pad the bottom line. We add parking fees to hotel guests because we can, not because parking is a problem.

To sum up, the Magic is a cover for grabbing cash. And the cash is just to make our c-level executives happy, so they look good to Wall Street.



31. Ice Cream Bars Aren't For Your Sneakers

No, putting ice cream bars in your kids' shoes will not count as them being tall enough to ride Thunder Mountain.

We do not need your help to group yourselves into seats on rides; we can seat your "party of 52" much quicker than you can.

It means the WORLD to a cast member when you treat them like humans. I almost burst into tears on Christmas when someone said: "thank you for being here, I know you're giving up time with your family to help make mine have a great vacation."

I understand there are very high expectations for a perfect Disney vacation, but the rides are old, Cast Members are tired, it's hot, there's so much you may not see. I will never forget bringing a Make-A-Wish family through our separate entrance, essentially the front of the line, to have a nearby mom say "maybe I should pretend my kid is ill too."

Oh - and there are cameras literally everywhere.


30. Cast Members Take Classes On How To Love Their Job

Within the first week of getting a job at the Disney Parks, everyone, from the third shift custodians to the high-level executives, goes through a class called Traditions where they go hard on the pixie dust and try to instill in people an emotional attachment to their job.

At the end of the day, though, the people who stick around genuinely like making people happy and giving people great experiences. There is room for initiative on the part of cast members, which helps get them invested.


29. Adults Throw Fits To Put Their Kids In Danger

A mom flat out yelled at me because I would not let her small children ride alone, and I felt uncomfortable with strangers watching their child. She was screaming at me. I finally said, "Look, if god forbid anything were to happen to them on the ride you would blame me. It is not worth it. I’m sorry." She then told me how dare I, judge her. It will stick with me for life. I was trying to do my job. And I knew deep down if something happened I would be blamed. Not the mom and not the strangers who agreed to watch them on the ride. Before she started yelling at me, I was actually getting ready to tell her I would take them myself. But when she is yelling at me making me feel like scum I’m not going to help you.

Also while the college program is amazing, they don’t pay enough. I hurt for money badly.

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28. Would You Pay To Work At Disney? These Kids Do.

At any given time, there are between 10-20k college students working at the parks and property. They make minimum wage and are not union. They have very strict rules. They provide housing. Think fancy dorms 1-4 bedroom apartments with two people in each room. They provide buses to all locations. They charge for housing. And it’s not cheap. It was $110 a week when I did it in 2011, and I shared with five other people. So they were making 660 dollars a week on this apartment. Some colleges offer credits for things like hospitality degrees and such.


27. Just Keep Swimming... Or Moving!

Leave an area when it’s done, waiting around won’t give you special privileges or opportunities, we just look at you and hope you leave soon so we can do our job, most times you are putting us behind schedule.


26. Record A Ride And Break A Nose?

When we tell you to put away your loose belongings on a ride, it's not a suggestion. Our main concern is safety, and the last thing anyone needs is a broken nose because a phone from row one flew back and hit a guy a couple of rows back. But aside from harming others, you're also inconveniencing yourself. We can't stop operations to go get your hat, cell phone or Mickey ears. So unless you want to wait until park close to possibly collect your items, please just listen to the cast members when they say that you should store your items away. It's easier for you, and it's easier for us.



25. The Monorail: Boring and ... Unsafe?


There have been so many incidents of people stranded on the monorails. They break all day long. Pieces of the trains, concrete beams, and debris fall of the monorails on a near-daily basis.

Even if that won’t get you, Disney paid (more like scammed, that’s another story) a Canadian company to automate the monorails. These things have been blowing station stops, running spacing limits (hold points), and are having malfunctions on anything the computer controls. It’s scary.

To make it worse, when the automated tech fails the monorail “pilot” has to take over. Well, guess what! Disney is so cheap that instead of extending training to include both manual and automatic operation of the monorail, they just cut the manual operation training down. Even before that the training to manually operate, the monorail was 9 days. Nine days to be trained to operate a 40mph, and 206ft train loaded with 350 people.

I swear I hope somebody lashes out on the company one day.


24. Stories of Cremated Remains In The Haunted Mansion Are Wrong.

I worked at The Haunted Mansion for years. A few times a year people would try to spread their loved one's ashes on at the ride. Please don't do this! All that happens is a custodial Cast Member gets a special vacuum we keep locked in a closet, and they get sucked up and thrown out. Or, if its outside and it's the summer we just wait for the midday rainstorm to do the work.


23. "Bear Hugs" Are Not Welcome.

Dear god people can’t seem to realize characters are just humans in a suit half the time. A lot of people try to come and pick up Chewbacca performers claiming them to be “bear hugs,” and a lot of poor Goofys get banged around too. Not even going to get started on the stalking/harassment issues face characters deal with.


22. Where Cafeteria and Storage Space Became "Secret Tunnels"

Fun fact: Magic Kingdom in WDW is actually built on the second story. The first story is a massive underground Utilidor tunnel system that has cafeterias, storage space, a barber shop, locker rooms, and more, as well as a vacuum system to suck away trash bags.


21. Wall-e Is A Better Employee

I get really frustrated when I’m alone at the merge, and my coordinator is just standing there instead of helping. Most of them do, but others don’t.

In the particular instance I mentioned, our queue line was over 3 hours, with a phase 3, and the air conditioning in the queue was out. The two families I sent through the standard line were single riders, and I let both families through without going back to my Fastpass line because I knew I hadn’t sent any single riders in a while and wanted to help out my grouper. So instead of trying to think critically to solve the problem and have sympathy for my standard queue, I should have just acted like the little mindless robot that they expect you to be.


20. Everything Is For Sale!

Former Walt Disney World merchandise cast member here. Was on the Disney College Program last fall, and I worked primarily in the Star Tours gift shop "Tattooine Traders". This is one of my best stories.

We had several autographed pictures behind the counter; Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie was $10,000. I was on the register near the pictures when this older gentleman asked me how much the center piece was. I told him "Ten thousand dollars sir!". He looked at me and said, "That would look great in my theatre room, how many do you have in stock?". I said "Two including the one on display," he said "Perfect I'll take both!". The total after taxes was a bit over $20,000. I was a bit flustered swiping that credit card, I know there are some rich people out there but never really got to see it first-hand. My favorite part is that as I offered to ship it home for him he says "No thanks! I brought my plane with me!"



19. Cast Members Need Security More Than You Do

One time our ride caught on fire (it did that a lot), and we had to evacuate, everyone. This was at the end of the night, so the recovery FastPasses we gave the guests were pretty useless. One guest decided he was going to FIGHT my coworker out at FastPass and I had to run and get a Leader to go get security. That was fun.

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18. Is Stalking Ever Harmless?

Former photographer at Disney World and worked very closely with the characters. There were some creepy regulars. There was this couple who’d pretty much come in every day and would get super mushy with the cast members, like a first name basis kind of thing, and they would make sure to catch specific performers during their set. No one knows how they knew this info; we think they just stalked them. Some Cast Members think it’s harmless, but I think it’s incredibly odd. They even expect some special treatment because they are regulars. I’ve only encountered them a couple of times, but they managed to find me on Facebook just based off my name tag info.


17. Reservations Ruin Vacations

I worked in restaurants making reservations 15 years ago. If eating at this place was the most important part of your vacation and you decided to wait until the day to try and book any time between 5pm-9pm dinner, then you are not smart. There is a multi-hour line for everything in the park, but you think you can just walk in anytime and be seated? I'm not sorry that I personally RUINED YOUR WHOLE VACATION!


16. Chipmunks Aren't Meant For Florida Weather

This was a while ago now but it still makes me smiley and nostalgic.

Character performers, such as myself, are only out during specific time slots during the day for pictures. When those times end, usually guests aren't allowed to enter the queue anymore, and we finish up taking photos with those remaining. Unfortunately, this day was particularly hot, and fur characters had been experiencing issues (i.e., fainting) due to the heat, so they were packing us up rather quickly at the end of shifts. Dale and I (Chip) were waving our goodbyes to the guests when we heard this child absolutely WAILING her lungs out over not being able to meet us--she wasn't being bratty, she sounded genuinely upset.

My attendant is the best. The crowd dispersed a bit, and she was able to catch up with the parents. She found out they would be returning tomorrow, and since we all had shifts the following day, we pulled some strings to set up a small meeting. Here's how it went down:

The parents, as instructed to, brought her to Critter Country a while before the first meet and greet of the day. I crept up behind her and gently put my paws over her eyes, and pulled them back to reveal Dale striking this wonderfully heroic pose in front of her. I still remember how she screamed in excitement when she realized her favorite Disney characters had come out just to spend some time with her. We gave her autographs and did photos, then spent the rest of the time playing tag.


15. Don't Ask Kids Their Age Or Shoe Size, It's Creepy.

I used to work in the stores, and there was this one guy who came in and sat with a little girl (who was left alone in the theatre by her nanny) and started asking her weird questions like who she’s with and how old she is. It wasn’t until my fellow cast member (also a guy) noticed and approached them that the guy stood up and left immediately.

We also had another incident where a guest complained to one of my stage leads that there was a man going around and asking children how old they were. It turns out he didn’t know the size of his own kid’s feet, and he was trying to find another kid who is the same age to figure it out. My stage lead pretty much yelled at the guy


14. Official Custodians Have Maps, Pins, and Special Occasion Buttons At All Times.

At Disney, the ones who wear all white are the "official" custodians - in that they're the ones with the broom and pan, changing out garbage bags, cleaning bathrooms or obvious messes (vomit, food, spills, etc.). But all cast members do basic cleaning. See trash, dispose of it. The result is astounding.

Fun fact: The ones who wear white also usually have park maps tucked away in their half-aprons, in case you need one. A few of the ones I've approached also had a variety of buttons (first time at Disney, birthday, anniversary, celebrating: <write occasion here in sharpie>)



13. Disney World Is The Best Place To Watch Disasters Become Amazing Family Stories

Not so much "behind the scenes" stuff, but one of my favorite stories. I worked at Epcot for eight years, and this happened sometime in the early '90s.

There was a couple from somewhere in the Midwest that had driven to Miami to adopt a child (their 9th?). On the way home, they decided to stop at Disney World for the kids. After pulling into the Epcot parking lot, their van caught fire. They got all the kids out, but the van was a total loss. Disney put them all up in one of their hotels while the couple tried to figure out what to do next. Turns out, there was a convention of Rotary International at the Swan hotel. One of the members saw the story on the news and at breakfast the next morning, passed the hat among the members. They ended up collecting enough to buy the couple a brand new van, extra equipment for all the kids, and a hefty check left over. I have always held a certain amount of pride in the Rotary club for this amazing generosity.


12. Free Passes Are Often Passed On To Unsuspecting Guests

My brother worked at Disney World for a long time. My son and I visited him, and he took us into the park on one of his passes. But the pass let him take in four guests, so he found a young couple waiting in line to buy tickets and invited them in for free. They were unsure at first (is this a scam?), but when we got inside my brother just smiled and said "Have the best day ever," and we walked away. They both screamed with joy. It was a beautiful thing.


11. There Is No "Beating The Crowd"

There really isn't a time where it isn't crowded. Between seasonal festivals, and local crowds your best bet is to go during the week when kids are typically in school and take advantage of the Disneyland app and Maxpass.


10. Being An Annual Passholder Doesn't Make You Special

Really early into my College Program, I had a 6-foot tall adult man who was an ANNUAL PASSHOLDER scream at me while I was alone where the line came together. We were at maximum capacity for FastPasses and the family from standby that I just let in was like eight people. He was literally sitting there screaming at me (a short 22-year-old man) in front of his family while I was just taking it and trying to keep count of FastPass on my counter/clicker thing. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and pulled down our ratio chart and tried to explain it to him as nicely as possible. BUT HE WAS AN ANNUAL PASSHOLDER and had a RIGHT to get on the ride.


9. Chip and Mickey Aren't As Manly As You Might Think

All of your weird myths about working in the park are wrong.

Also, most of the mascot characters are played by women because you have to be really short to play them.


8. Job Requirements: A Sense Of Humor

Whenever our ride was down, a friend and I would tell guests that the other one tripped over the power cord to the ride. It was especially good when the guest was just on the verge of way too upset. A good 75% of the time, the casual joke crack would get them to at least not explode at us.


7. Walt Still Keeps The Park Clean.

Walt Disney himself instituted a precedent that trash cans be no more than 50 feet apart. They are colorfully painted and blend in...but take a look next time at how many are strategically placed EVERYWHERE.

He noticed that at fairs and carnivals, people would often look around for a trash can, and if none was in sight, they would just drop their cups or wrappers on the ground.


6. No Tips In the Magic Kingdom

Cast members in most positions are not allowed to accept tips. Going to guest relations or letting their manager know they’ve done a great job is significantly more helpful to the cast member.


5. They Judge How You Dress and Want You To Keep Your Distance


The number of grown adults wearing extremely inappropriate things was too high. Disney nominally has a dress code (that they don’t actually enforce anymore) but wearing shirts with Mickey using substances or a pin-up picture of a Princess, you’re trash, and I will defend that point forever. ALSO, WEAR A SHIRT. It’s literally a health hazard for us to let you get on a ride shirtless because of your sweat and other gross stuff that could be on your body. We will tell you to put on a shirt. A SPORTS BRA IS NOT A SHIRT).

Don’t creepily flirt with the cast members. Don’t grab a cast member. Don’t stalk cast members.

Annual passholder?

In sum: I loved my time at Disney because of the friends I made and the time I got to spend in the parks and the fact that I literally know the ins and outs of all what’s going on at Disney. But the actual job sucked so much. I’m never going back to work on a park again. But it’s definitely a cult and my friends are still there and loving it, and I visit them regularly. They keep me updated on the Disney gossip, and I definitely feel like I’ll never leave that College Program cult. Also, watching your home park change is really hard.


4. You Can Officially Open Blizzard Beach If You Survive The First Wave

Former Blizzard Beach Lifeguard here (2002): every morning, whatever kid is first in line at the waterpark gets to ride the first slide - whichever one they want; and that's how they open the park.

Lifeguards ride every waterside and attraction right before opening to test them as well

Also, once or twice a year they open up the park at night for a lifeguard - only party. The drinks flow, anything goes, and it is an absolute show. Then everyone cleans until daybreak.


3. Lose Your Kids In The Happiest Place On Earth

Guests, unfortunately, try to do unsafe things all the time, which force attractions to stop and usually be down for a while to be reset.

Truly dangerous things rarely happen thankfully, the biggest thing is unattended children...please don't forget your kids in strollers by themselves, it's never nice coming back to a crowd of security cast members. Happens EVERY day.


2. Some People Do Hate Disney, But They're Usually Employees.

All of the Cast Members at my location were treated terribly. The College Program members especially. It wasn't uncommon for someone in my location to be yelled at or crying because our managers were garbage.

Looking down at the register then looking back up at a guest? The guest thinks you're rolling your eyes at them, then here comes a manager to tear you a new one. Suggesting they move to another line to check out quicker because you have so many people in your line during a rush and the person next to you's register is wide open? You were disrespectful, even though you got them out of there quicker. Not knowing how to speak Spanish and not having a backup and getting in trouble because of the language barrier? Commonplace.

I have so much more I can say. My roommates were miserable. The people I worked with were miserable. I wouldn't trade getting to go to the parks for free for anything.


1. No Rock Goes Unpolished, No Stone Goes Undusted

Actual Disneyland Cast Member here. Just to clarify this isn't the coolest part of Disney. However, I feel this is impressive and should be at least recognized.

Every evening after the park closes and everyone is emptied out (during the summer this is around 1:30 am), hundreds of cast members clean, repair, trim, paint, and do everything else necessary to get the park ready for the next day. And when I say everything, I mean everything. There are some areas of the park that they repaint every single night just to make sure they are show ready for the next day. Horticulture cast members replace entire planters with fresh flowers, so they are consistently beautiful. Others power wash every road surface every night. If I were to list everything they do I would probably fry my laptop.

To some, a better word for all this work may be "impressive" or "over-the-top." For me, though I think it's incredibly cool that Disney spends so much time and money perfecting the details. As best as I can tell there is little that goes overlooked. I myself work inside the park; I have nothing to do with this 3rd shift stuff. However, I greatly respect their work and feel they deserve to be recognized.