Walt Disney World is every kid’s wildest dream. Heck, what adult doesn’t have a blast there too? It does a good job at bringing out the inner child in us all. There is a reason why it has garnered the reputation of being the most magical place on earth. Whether you are brought to the parks to brave their thrilling rides, to come face to face with Disney characters, or to discover delectable food, a trip to Disney World is one to be remembered for life.
The Disney World experience isn’t one that’s thrown together overnight. In fact, it takes a ton of behind-the-scenes work and many collaborating pieces to make a child’s dream come true.
Getting hired to work at the happiest place on earth is a lot of people's fantasy. There are plenty of job opportunities at Disney whether you want to work as a costumed character performer, a ride operator, or in one of their many retail stores. Whatever you decide to be the perfect fit for you, as an employee at Disney, you will be referred to as a "cast member." If you dream of being one of the 70,000 cast members at Disney World, sorry to burst your bubble, but the hiring process is anything but easy. Not to mention that working as a cast member is a very rigorous gig that comes with an entire slew of requirements. All this to make every guest's experience as sparkly as possible.
Some cast members, after leaving their jobs, have shared what it's really like working in the parks. They've talked about the good, and the bad. And of course, they have shed light on the things that will make you want to quit your job right now and get hired to work at Walt Disney World, or at least plan your next vacation down to Orlando, Florida. Keep reading to learn some secrets of working in the parks.
Business, No Pleasure
When you're working at Disney World, you need to uphold to all of their standards. This of course includes how you should present yourself physically. Unfortunately, some very creative people who are so fitting to be Disney cast members are prohibited from working there because of visible tattoos. People with tattoos can get around this by covering up with long sleeve shirts and pants. But, imagine dressing like this in the scorching Florida summer heat. Yea, that doesn't bode too well and makes for a seriously brutal mix. Cast members are also required to wear their hair pulled back, unless their costume requires another hair style.
Finally, if you think that you’ll get away with your goth-colored nail polish or nail decor, then you are sorely mistaken. Disney also forbids this look. And if you are the kind of person to throw your clothes on the ground when you come home from work or stain your clothing, this job probably won't be for you. Cast members are required to keep their costumes in immaculate condition. Keep reading to find out how you know if you really pissed off an employee.
At Walt Disney World, you are never referred to as an "employee." Instead, your job title will be called a "Cast Member."
Working at Disney World requires you to constantly be on your "A" game and always stay in character. It's part of what makes the whole experience magical. Next up, learn about the language used in the parks.
Their Own Lingo
When a guest mistakenly wanders off into a prohibited area of the park, the cast members describe this as "going backstage." For example, back offices and computer rooms are called backstage. Considering that everything at Disney World is like one big play, doesn't this make sense?
This term "backstage" isn’t the only term used when talking about performers and guests. The term “onstage” is also used when referring to retail stores. All cast members, from the employee dressed as Mickey to the employee working as the cashier, is instructed to stay in character onstage. For Disney, the most important thing is providing the best show as possible for the guests. See the next slide for another interesting fact.
Like a Real Jungle
Disney's Animal Kingdom reportedly cost nearly 1 billion dollars to construct. It covers an area of around 500 acres of land in the park. Animal Kingdom first opened to visitors on Earth Day in 1998. A lot of work was put into designing the park. Disney Imagineers traveled all the way to Africa and Asia to study the landscapes and wildlife in order to replicate them in a realistic fashion. They also brought back seeds from 37 countries to plan in the park. Talk about commitment! The Animal Kingdom was built sunken several feet into the ground. Several theories exist as to the reason for this. Some people claim that it’s the result of central Florida’s many sinkholes. But, this isn’t exactly why. Animal Kingdom was built in this way in order to create a more fitting environment for both animals and guests. You can see that Disney does everything to make the guest experience the best it can possibly be.
Disney also goes great distances to protect the animals of the park. There is a ban on all things plastic, including plastic straws, cups, cup lids, and balloons. The reason for this is so that they don't end up in the animals' cages. Another interesting fact about Animal Kingdom is that it houses the most expensive roller coaster ever built in the world. Expedition Everest, Legend of the Forbidden Mountain cost $100,000,000. It took six years to plan and build the ride.
Never Break Character
Disney World cast members are strictly forbidden from breaking character when in costume. There are no exceptions. Even a cast member who becomes sick isn't allowed to break character. This rule is in place to maintain the magic that guests feel when they're in the park. There is a deep commitment to the guest experience in the company.
Remember “the flu game” when Michael Jordan played in the 1997 NBA finals with the flu and managed to score 38 points in 44 pants? Kind of like that... Keep reading for a funny remark from cast members!
Even on Down Time, There's a Dress Code
You would think that during training or off hours when cast members don't need to be in full costume, that they can lounge around in whatever they want. Wrong. they are required to dress in business casual attire. And if they break that rule, there's a punishment. They need to put on a costume. Seeing as though you probably don’t want to be wearing a costume while you're in a classroom training session... you’d be best to follow this rule. Apparently, it was important for Walt Disney to have his employees looking professional and sharp 24/7.
The Disney Careers website labels the Disney employee dress code as "The Disney Look." Women are allowed to wear either a dress, suit, capri, or dress pants with a formal blouse. In terms of footwear, they can wear closed-toe shoes or ones which are slightly open at the toes. Men, on the other hand, must wear a suit or dress pants with a collared, professional shirt. They should also show up in socks and dress shoes to complete the look.
The Costumes are Usually Very Small
Disney costumes succeed in setting the mood of Disney theme parks in a way that standard amusement parks aren’t able to. But, there’s one problem with the costumes; they reportedly run very small. This is apparently a vestige of the 1970s.
Whatever the real reason is, employees who get hired must order up a few sizes. Keep reading to learn how you know if you've aggravated a Disney employee.
Worlds Must Never Crossover
Every time you visit a new part of the park, whether it’s a restaurant, shop, or ride, the cast members wear outfits that represent the theme of that specific spot. It’s a subtle and effective move that Disney does to create an authentic guest experience. So, if you're wondering what it would be like if Harry Potter and Peter Pan became friends, you can stop wondering because this wouldn't happen. Actually, when they are in character, Cast Members aren’t even allowed to talk or acknowledge the existence of other characters or brands outside of the world of Disney.
In specific situations, Disney employees have made exceptions for guests. Unfortunately, the guests aren’t as appreciative of the efforts, maybe because they aren’t aware of how much it requires to make the Disney experience possible. Someone shared a story online about their sister who was a Disney World Cast Member. They said that their sister was working in a gift store when a parent and her son with cancer asked to meet Darth Vader. The Disney worker told them that the story doesn’t carry Darth Vader costumes or Star Wars memorabilia. The child started to freak out and the parent demanded to speak to one of the managers. After an hour of them waiting, the Disney worker ended up putting on a Darth Vader costume and greeting the young boy. The sister shared that the boy’s response was ‘I knew we wouldn’t have to walk to the other side of the park! I love cancer.'
There are Strict Size Requirements
Although having to put on a costume every day can be frustrating, what is perhaps even more aggravating is the competition to get cast as a character. You might be able to do your best impression of Princess Jasmine, and yet, the casting director still won't see you as right for it. Disney has strict rules for who can play a Disney Princess. Their decision is first and foremost based on height and body shape. They are uncompromising when it comes to the height standards that a Princess must meet. Princesses must be between 5’4″ and 5″8″ tall. While that is a pretty standard height for adult women, it does mean that shorter women are automatically left out of the running and in the gutter.
But, there is a logical reason for these height requirements, and it’s not because Disney wants the princesses to be tall and leggy. The reason is to save the company from creating tons of new costumes to fit all different shapes and sizes. If all Disney Princesses are around the same size, this means they can share costumes.This is especially important considering that you can play Belle one day and Ariel the next. If you're a more petite woman hoping to get hired as a costumed character, you still have the chance to play Tinkerbell. And for taller guys, they can audition for Prince Charming or Gaston.
The 3 O'clock Parade
Cast members have laughed about the most common question they get asked at Walt Disney World. They often get asked “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” It's a hilarious mistake that a lot of people accidentally make. Cast members aren't able to forget the time of the daily parade and its route, even after quitting.
Unfortunately, the daily parade can sometimes result in fatalities. In 2004, a cast member was killed by a float during an afternoon parade. This happened in Orlando's Magic Kingdom park. The fatality was the result of a tragedy and not rules being broken. The Cast Member who had been killed in the incident had been an employee of Disney for eight years. Another accident in the parks ensured in 1999. An employee of Magic Kingdom Skyway fell to his death from the ride he was managing. The Skyway ride was permanently shut down later that year.
There are Some Perks
You can probably tell by now that being a cast member is hard work. Luckily, Disney rewards its employees with some pretty awesome perks. For starters, cast members get free admission on their day off. While that's a pretty cool perk, I can't imagine many cast members are running to their workplace on their day off.
Another cool part of being a cast member is that you get discounts on food, beverages, and merchandise, plus discount cards for your family and friends. This is all true if you follow this next secret rule of Walt Disney World. We are sorry if this next secret ruins some of the magic of Disney world for you.
The Cast Would Have to Share Underwear
Have you ever shared underwear with your colleagues? My guess would be no. Well, until 2001, Disney cast members were required to share underwear. The reason for this is that many of the costumes include special undergarments, like tights and bike shorts. According to some employees, the undergarments weren’t always clean when they received them. As a result, some cast members allegedly contracted lice or scabies. Disney kept quiet about the situation, but they did change the rules after being exposed. Cast members are now permitted to take their underwear home and wash it themselves.
Underwear isn’t the only part of the costume that’s regulated. There are even rules for Mickey and crew when it comes to crewnecks. Disney requires costumed cast members to wear a plain white crewneck or v-neck shirt under their costumes. The shirts must have a traditional neckline, which considering the fact that you can barely see them under the costumes is quite absurd. Similarly so, they have a rule for non-costumed cast members which holds that they can wear any solid color shirt that matches their outfit. Although several cast members reported to have contracted lice from the undergarments, there are actually strict cleaning policies when it comes to washing the costumes. Disney requires costumed characters to drop off their costumes for cleaning after every shift. Every day, cast members who wear costumes pick up their costumes from a building which houses 15,000 costumes and drop them off at the end of their shift. For this reason, even though many employees wear the same costume every day, they aren't necessarily in the same costume that they had on the day before.
There's No Such Thing As “I Don’t Know”
How many times throughout the week do you find yourself saying the words "I don't know." Well, probably a lot! If you ever become a Disney World Cast Member, you'll need to train yourself out of the habit of saying those words. Cast Members must either provide guests with an answer or be able to direct them to somebody who can answer the guest's question.
Considering the extensive training that employees have to go through, they most likely know the answers to practically all questions. Coming up next, see how Cast Members must point their fingers.
The Iconic Two-Finger Point
All cast members must use two fingers while pointing, or basically, guide guests using an open palm. The reason for this is believed to be that Walt Disney wasn’t a fan of people making hand signals or gestures with one finger. He felt that guests that this could be translated as rude to guests.
However, it is also reported that the real reason arose from Walt's smoking habits. In most photos of Walt pointing to various attractions, he's actually has in place a cigarette in between his two fingers. The cigarette was airbrushed out by Disney because it's no longer socially acceptable to smoke. So now, the pictures make it appear as though Disney pointed people in the right direction using two fingers.
When a child is lost, Disney cast members refer to them as "lost adults" via the radio system and not "lost children." This is for safety purposes, AKA to prevent any potential kidnapping from happening while security is locating the missing child. This sounds like a pretty solid rule that should be adopted at other establishments.
That’s not all that Disney is doing to help prevent kidnapped children. Recently, Disney parks were awarded a patent for a device that tracks visitors by videoing their shoes. The reason for this device was two-fold. For starters, they wanted to know more about the rides that people gravitate towards. But, the device can also help prevent kidnappings. The reason for this is because many times, when a child is kidnapped, the kidnapper will first change the kid's shirt to avoid them from being recognized. But they often neglect to swap the children’s shoes. Those Disney engineers are pretty smart, huh?
The Hidden Mickeys
Scattered around Walt Disney World are countless concealed Mickey Mouse heads. Some guests love coming to the park to try and search for the Mickey heads dispersed throughout. There are several websites on the internet which are committed to finding and reporting the Mickey symbols. According to a HiddenMickey SquareSpace page, there are 50 symbols hidden in Disneyland’s ToonTown area alone. Here is a list of Hidden Mickeys in Frontierland. Skip this list if you don’t want the surprise to be spoiled!
Golden Horseshoe stage vent; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; S.S. Mark Twain between the smokestacks; S.S. Mark Twain River Excursions sign; Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island cave entrance; Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island on chimney; Rivers of America; Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante; Big Thunder Ranch Petting Zoo knot hole; Big Thunder Ranch House reigns & bridles; Big Thunder Ranch House horseshoe pile; Shooting Exposition; Pioneer Mercantile; and Critter Country. Another fun fact about Mickey Mouse is that there are always around 7-8 Mickey Mouses roaming the park at the same time. But when people ask a cast member "How many Mickeys are there here?", they must always say "One." This is to keep the Disney illusion alive for the guests and to make the Disney experience as believable as possible. Up next; how to tell if you've pissed off a Cast Member.
The Cast Members’ Secret Code
If you hear from a cast member "Have a Disney day," you can be sure that you really got them mad. Disney members need some way of staying sane and letting off some steam while staying true to their character. Some people know that cast members need to stay in character at all costs so they will sometimes take advantage of this. They bully the cast members and try to trick them into breaking character. Kids also can be quite irritating and they might try to pull on the ears of dogs or tug a princesses's arm to get her attention. While it's extremely obnoxious behavior, it's part of the average work day for costumed employees and something they need to get used to. So, if you ever hear from an employee to have a Disney day, you can be sure that you triggered them. You should also say it right back to them!
Other code words that employees use are "Treasured Guest," which describes a visitor who is being rude and out-of-line. "The Kiss Goodnight" means "last call" and refers to the park closing in 30 minutes. "When You Wish Upon A Star" is played and you can assume that cast members are muttering silently to themselves for you and all other guests to go home already.
No Posting about Work on Social Media
Disney cast members can post on their Instagrams and Facebooks as much as they want... off the clock. When they're at work, they're strictly forbidden from using social media and personal electronics. And off the clock, they are prohibited from talking about their jobs on social media at all. You might think that with more than 50,000 cast members, then it is difficult to keep track of everybody off the clock. But, Disney has a lot of power and people working for them, and they are very aware of what is said about them online. This is all part of Disney's intentions to keep up the magic and their image, however a lot of workers feel that it's very restrictive.
In one very public case in 2016, a Disney employee was fired for posting a photo of a sign which advised other employees how to respond when asked about alligators. The sign read ““If a guest asks if we have gators in the water around Tom Sawyer’s island (or any other bodies of water), the correct and appropriate response is, ‘Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have it removed.’ …Please do not make jokes with our guests about this.” It's no surprise that the Cast Member got the boot for publicly sharing this information.
The Disney Inside Scoop
There's a reason why Disney World is as beautiful as it is and part of that has to do with Disney's policy of having cast members pick up trash. But, like many others things at the resort, there is a twist. Cast members must swoop up the trash in one swift movement and not stop or lean over to pick it up.
Even top execs get in on the swooping. While this task might not be for everybody, it's part of the Disney culture and a requirement. Cast members say it takes a while to fully master the art.
Disney is very strict about this next rule. If Disney catches you taking pictures in your costume, you can consider yourself unemployed.
Disney execs put their foot down with this one and there's no getting off the hook. If they find out that you took selfies backstage, you can kiss goodbye to the Magic Kingdom.
Cast members go through extensive training in how to speak to each other as well as to guests. One thing they are prohibited from uttering the word "vomit." If a guest has an accident on or during a ride, a cast member gets on the radio and says "Code V." The last thing they'd need is for another guest to get sick at hearing the word "vomit."
There is another secret lingo which cast members use to alert each other about ride difficulties and other mishaps. A “Code P” means someone accidentally urinated in the park and a "Code H" means that a parade horse pooped in the park.
Have you ever noticed and wondered why some parts of Disney World have specific smells? Well, like everything else at Disney World, there is a reason for this. There are special machines called smellitizers that are scattered throughout the park. These machines distribute specific scents throughout the park like fresh baked cookies on Main Street. Now isn't that a good way to lure you into buying some fresh and delicious cookies in the park? Apparently, there is a shop outside of Disney called Anthology Candles that sells perfumes which mimic the scent of some of Disney attractions. Animal Kingdom, Main Street Bakery, and Belle’s Library, anybody? I might just have to buy some for my house.
Another smelly fact- Wearing heavy costumes and being in the hot sun is a recipe for a smelly disaster. For this reason, Disney's employee 'bible' called The Disney Look states “Due to close contact with Guests and fellow Cast Members the use of an antiperspirant or deodorant is required.
There's a Secret Store
When a guest loses an item or leaves it behind at Walt Disney World, employees make a big effort to reunite the item with its owner. One guest whose daughter lost an engraved pocket mirror posted about it online. She shared that they called about the mirror the day after losing it. She boasted about how kind the person was on the phone and that they were immediately able to verify that the mirror had been found. They wrapped the mirror carefully and mailed it right to their house. Her daughter was so appreciative of this that she ended up becoming an ever bigger fan of Disney because of their kind treatment.
When a guest loses an item, it is kept for a certain length of time to give the owner a chance to retrieve it. If he doesn't, then the item is sold to cast members in a special store. All of the profits made from the items go to charity. This just proves that Disney World is truly the most magical place on earth.
“Don’t Date Disney"
With cast members often working up to 70-hour work weeks, you can imagine that they get very close to one another, and we aren’t just talking about in the work sense. Some employees even become romantically involved. There are plenty of stories roaming the internet about Gaston and Wendys being found together in supply closets. There is actually an expression that cast members use about dating one another called DDD, “Don’t Date Disney." Nevertheless it happens. It happens a lot in the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies, Tom Sawyer’s Island, and EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth.
Apparently, some employees ignore the cameras that are in place throughout the park. And you better bet that there are repercussions for getting involved in this kind of behavior. A previous Disneyland employee who had worn the costume of Captain Jack Sparrow on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was fired after a photo of him kissing his girlfriend (who played Ariel) leaked on social media. The problem was that both of them were in full Disney costume. Serves them right for not reading the employee handbook well enough.
They Must Have a Perfect Signature
Cast members need to have everything down to a T. This doesn't only include personifying the attitudes and appearances of the characters they're playing. But, it also means learning how to write like their characters.
You better believe that Disney trains all cast members to help them perfect their character's signature.
No Tweeting Either!
Disney takes great measures to protect its image. In a world where many people are used to posting their every move on social media, this next rule can take some getting used to, but for the sake of employees keeping their job, they better adapt fast. Cast members are not only forbidden from using their social media while at work.
They are also forbidden from discussing their job on any of their social media accounts outside of work.
They Can’t Say Who They Play
If you ask a cast members which character they play, they aren’t allowed to tell you. All they can tell you is that they’re friends with “so and so” character or that they hang out with that character.
Again, Disney is trying to preserve the magic of the park. If you try to trick them into it, they will not fall for it.
The Music Never Ends
You know when songs are overplayed on the radio and even if you loved it at the beginning you begin to despise it with every cell in your body? If you've taken a ride on the It's A Small World ride, then you would have experienced a fraction of what employees experience on a never-ending basis. For Disney employees, the music never stops. Even when the park is closed, the music keeps going. Can you imagine what it must take for employees to maintain such a friendly demeanor all of the time? That is some true discipline.
And if you’ve forgotten how it goes, let us remind you: “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hope, it’s a world of fear. There’s so much that we share. And it’s time we’re aware. It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world.”
Walt’s Plane is Backstage
Cast members are able to see Walt Disney's plane backstage. Walt purchased the Grumman Gulfstream 1 model in 1964. He and his wife decorated it together. The plane seats 15 passengers and also features sofas and a desk. Walt Disney used the plane to look for spots in Florida when he set out to create Disney World. Nicknamed "The Mouse," the white plane as a Mickey logo painted on its tail. One of the perks of being a cast member is being privy to this plane.
Cast members aren't the only ones who can see the plane. Guests also can visit the plane if they go on the Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
No Selfies Backstage
You know by now that cast members can't share pictures or post anything on social media. But, they aren't even allowed to take photos backstage. This rule was only adopted in the last few years, which makes sense considering the explosion of social media.
Even if you spot a celebrity which you are a die hard fan of in the area, you can't take a picture with them.
Disney Pin Trading
Cast members at Disney World, the Disneyland Resort, and Disneyland Paris are always required to wear a lanyard with at least 12 pins on it. The pins are meant to be traded with guests. So, if you spot an employee wearing a pin you want, you can ask if they're willing to trade. The company’s official website shares that the Disney Pin Trading program is “an exciting, interactive experience where our Guests can trade Disney pins with our Disney Cast Members and other Guests. It’s fun for the whole family and CREATES cherished ‘pin pals’ to last a lifetime!”
Of course, there are specific rules for the Pin Trading program, like everything else at Disney. One of the rules is that the Pins traded must be in good condition. They should also be traded one at a time in a hand-to-hand transaction.
Facial Hair Rules
If you're hoping to work on growing your beard while working at Disney World, you may want to stick to your job as a barista. Disney requires its employees to go completely clean-shaven. From the start of the park in the 1950's, men were forbidden from growing their facial hair. In 2000, the rules were loosened a little to allow male Cast Members to have a mustache. But, not just any mustache. Their mustache must adhere to Disney standards which includes not extending beyond the corners of their mouths.
In 2012, the rules were once again lightened. Nowadays, cast Members can have beards and goatees. But, their beards must be trimmed neatly and not be longer than 1/4” in length. While Disney is more accepting of facial hair than it is of tattoos, it still is pretty exhaustive and probably deters a lot of creative minds from working for Disney.
No Long Hair
You can expect that if Disney will have a rule for beards and tattoos, then they most definitely have a rule for hair length. Disney’s whole point for all of these rules is so that nobody stands out. Similarly, hair and hairstyles shouldn't stand out. Male cast members can't have long hair. More specifically, they state that men’s hair must extend over their ears or fall in their eyes. It seems that for some characters, like Gaston, they are willing to make an exception.
Which, can you blame them letting him slide with that gorgeous full set of hair? If you are a male with long locks hoping to work as a costumed character, you might have to wait for a Disney Prince with long hair to be created.
And You Must Have Eyebrows
Disney doesn’t only set forth rules regarding men’s hair. There are also some very stringent rules when it comes to how female cast members can wear their hair. The Disney Look encourages “classic, simple hair styling whether it be a classic up-do or a shoulder-length cut.” Perhaps thanks to Pocahontas or Rapunzel, braided hairstyles are acceptable at Disney as long as there are no embellishments involved since “no beads or ornamentation are permitted.” Hair color also needs to look natural, so if you’re hoping to keep your purple dye in, you better be okay to go back to being a brunette. For cast members not in costume, their hairstyles also bear importance. Female cast members aren’t allowed to shave their eyebrows. Their hair must also be in a neat fashion, weather brushed and down or tightly pulled back. Earrings shouldn’t be any bigger than a quarter, and fingernails should be kept short.
There is a good reason for Disney’s stringent rules when it comes to appearance. Disney spokeswoman Angela Bliss shares that the reason for Disney’s fresh and clean look is so that all guests feel comfortable when they are present with the cast.
Cast Members Often Speed
Everyone is caught speeding at one point or another, Disney employees are no exception. Apparently on Disney property, the Disney po po pull over more cast members than actual guests for speeding. Perhaps they're just that excited to get to work? Or leave work... Whatever it is, we are sure that in this magical land, the punishment isn't so bad.
But, visitors also tend to get charged with traffic violations. In 2016 at Disney World in Orlando, two guests were on their way north to the park when they hit the pole holding up the official “Walt Disney World: Where Dreams Come True” sign. The welcome sign was knocked over and traffic into the park was halted for some time while emergency crew members worked to get rid of the damage done as swift as possible. Hopefully the incident didn’t end in any fatalities or prevent any dreams from coming true that day.
Disney Wants You to Spend
Everything at Disney is done for a reason, for the guest experience and to bring in more money. They have a policy that all the purchases you make can be delivered to your hotel if you're staying at a Disney resort. Or, they can get delivered to the front of the park for you to pick up when you're leaving.
There are many things you can buy in the numerous gift shops located throughout every park. So come ready to spend!
Cast Members Will Help Make Purchasing Easier
Cast members are also able to make purchases easily. If you ask nicely, a cast member will bring you your purchases to the front of the park so you can pick them up when you're leaving, although I'm not sure how moral you would feel to ask a tiny Tinkerbell to haul your goods around the park.
But, kudos to Disney for helping to make all of your shopping dreams come true (while of course making more money for the company.)
Princesses Take Out the Trash Too
While it's not the most glamorous job, everyone is expected to do their part when it comes to keeping Disney parks clean. Even Cinderella. Unless, of course, she has her mice around to help her. In this photo, it looks like Alice isn’t so happy about the task at hand.
Despite there being tons of trash cans located every step of the way in the parks, many guests toss their waste recklessly on the ground. Regardless, Disney is committed to keeping the grounds clean and also helping making the environment greener.
And Be Sure to Do So Nicely
Cast members are expected to pick up trash whenever they see it. But, they can't pick up trash in the typical way that you and I pick it up. They're expected to swoop it up gracefully. They aren't allowed to squat. Perhaps they twirl and pick it up?
Or maybe there's some tag team happening between the characters where one person scoops the trash, passes it to another, and then they dunk it in the trash.
Disney Characters Never Frown
Disney takes protecting its image very seriously. So, what's at the forefront of that challenge? Their workers. Making a guest's visit magical means involves meeting cast members who are in a good mood, smiling, and on their best behavior. For that reason, cast members have a set of behaviors that they are strictly prohibited from engaging in while they are on the clock. One of those includes frowning. When you're at work, Disney basically controls the emotions that you display.
We definitely don't blame them for this one. Unless you're playing a character like Grumpy the dwarf and your character is meant to portray grumpiness, then no child wants to visit Disney World to see a berserk Prince Charming. While this makes sense, Disney, like everything else, takes their enforcement to an extreme.
And They Always Maintain Good Posture
When you're on the clock at Disney, you need to be on your A game, 100% of the time. This means no looking tired, sad, and being alert at all times. Unless a cast member needs to bend down to sign a young visitor's autograph book or snap a photo with a cast, they are expected to maintain good posture at all times. This doesn't sound so bad for perhaps characters like Ariel, but for soldiers who are carrying all that extra weight in a holiday parade, it must get very hot and heavy under all that weight.
While it's probably challenging to keep a smile on your face all of the time, especially if you're in pain, cast members handle it like the champs that they are, or because they have to.
No Eating in Public
This next one is pretty obvious: eating while being on stage is strictly forbidden. A cast member’s job requires being active all of the time. Whether it’s smiling at guests, posing for pictures, or helping guests, they are on their feet the whole day long. You can imagine the kind of hunger they experience from this level of intensity. But, cast members are forbidden from eating in front of guests. Can you imagine how much willpower you must have to not eat with all those smellitizers hanging around?
When the cast members do go for lunch, they have special cafeterias they can visit backstage and down in the tunnels. At the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, for example, there are five different employee restaurants. These cafeterias feature different menus, snacks, beverages, and special prices for employees. Cast Members are also eligible to receive 20-40% discounts at visitor restaurants on their days off, with their valid ID.
Chewing Gum is Forbidden
Just like the food rule, cast members aren't allowed to chew gum while on the job, which also makes sense. I don't think that Ariel was able to get her hands on gum under the sea nor was Aladdin popping gum bubbles while flying on his magic carpet. It's crucial that cast members stay in their fictional character the entire time even if they feel a wave of bad breath come over them and feel the need to pop a breath mint. The no slouching, no eating, and no chewing gum rule may seem very strict, but hey, the job is not for everyone.
Actually, there isn't even gum sold in any of the Disney parks. It is such a mess to clean, that they've done away with it entirely. Guests who can't live without gum for a day should come prepared with gum from home. And let's be real, if Disney did sell chew gum it would be majorly overpriced.
Find Somewhere Else to Smoke
Another rule which is completely understandable: cast members aren't able to smoke on the clock at all. In general, smoking laws around the country are more strict in the last five years and there aren’t many places that still allow smokers to smoke in public. So, Mr. Caterpillar, stop what you’re doing. Put that hookah down!
Interestingly enough, Walt Disney was a big smoker and eventually, his smoking habits let to dying from lung cancer. According to his longtime nurse Hazel George, Walt once said, “You’re right about one thing. Smoking and drinking are sins. Because you are one of God’s creatures and if you don’t take care of the body He gave you, you are committing a sin.”
Walt’s Wasn't Into Body Art
The Disney Internships & Programs website goes into greater detail about body modifications. They state in clear terms that they prohibit body modification or alteration for the sake of a visible and physical effect that takes away from a professional appearance. This includes visible tattoos, wearing name-brand clothing, body piercings other than ear piercings for women, and earlobe expansion. Cast members can have tattoos as long as they are covered at all times while at work.
Workers are also prohibited from wearing jewelry and plugs while working. While Disney seems really strict with some of these rules, it makes sense considering how many children visit the park. Extreme body modifications can be scary for young children who have never been exposed to them before.
No Pay Until Costumes are Returned
If you are looking for a hefty paycheck, then Disney is probably not the company you'll want to work for. Apparently, they even have a policy where they won't give you your last paycheck until you've returned all costumes to them.
But, it's rumored that this rule isn't enforced so strictly. So if you are hoping to show up to next year's Halloween party as Bell, you might be able to pull that off.
You’ll Never the Same Characters Near Each Other
If it's something that Disney is really good at, it's keeping things organized at the park. This includes keeping track of where characters are in the park at all times. In order to accomplish this, cast members have a schedule with them at all times. If you are looking for Buzz Lightyear, then Wendy might be able to help you out.
Another word about the scheduling is that seniors get priority. This means that newer cast members have to work more nights and weekends. Additionally, whereas part-time employees were once required to work two days per week, Disney now requires them to work at least three days. This means that cast members can’t get away with holding a full-time job and taking in some extra mula with a part-time job at Disney.
If Two Are Seen Together, They’ll Both Get Fired
Disney goes to great lengths to protect the illusion that the characters you are seeing are the only ones in the world. So, if two Snow Whites are seen together in the park, then it's enough to get the two dismissed from the job.
On the next slide, see why cast members aren't allowed to wear glasses.
Hey Four-eyes, Wear Contacts!
Unsurprisingly, Disney has strict rules that it adheres to about eyewear. Glasses with logos or ones that are brightly colored or flashy aren't allowed when on the clock. And you can probably safely assume that Cinderella isn't allowed to wear glasses at all. So if you have poor vision and you're trying to nail a job at Disney, you better show up wearing contacts.
Another fun fact is that at Disney, looking someone in the eye is a requirement. The Disney Look states forcefully that dark, mirrored, or opaque sunglasses are prohibited. The reason for this is that sunglasses take away from interpersonal communication with guests. Sunglasses which still allow guests to see your eyes are allowed. That means that you can leave your flashy frames at home. Both sunglasses and eyeglasses shouldn’t take away from the cast member’s costume or go against the theme of the park where they are working.
If You Feel Sick, Keep It a Secret
Disney cast members aren't allowed to remove their costume heads at all costs when they're on the clock. This means even when they're feeling sick of faint. So, next time you’re at Disney World and you see a smiling Donald Duck, you can ask yourself whether he's actually throwing up inside of his costume.
It's awkward to think how many people have pictures with sick characters.
One Family Got Free Passes When A Man Died
Apparently, a man once died from a heart attack in a Disney World store. Cast members took the grieving family backstage to give them some privacy.
While they got to see the behind the scenes, apparently his family also received lifetime passes to the park.
Disney Takes Shoplifting Seriously
There are many stories of kids who stole a few things from a Disney World store and were later on approached by security guards in the park who asked them to come with them. You just know with how strict Disney is, that this story can't end well. According to Orlando’s Umansky Law Firm, if somebody is caught stealing something which is worth more than $3, they can get charged with a Grand Theft. The penalty for a Grand Theft is a maximum five years probation, five years prison sentence, or a $5,000 fine. If you get convicted, then the judge will also suspend your driver's license. Disney takes committing a crime very seriously. Multiple reports and rumors have come out over the years claiming that Disney has a special jail for visitors who are caught engaging in rule breaking. Although this isn’t the case, there are detention centers at the park.
According to one employee who spoke openly on Reddit, the detention centers are often used during graduation nights or other times that guests sneak booze into the park and are caught messing around. Actually, actress Blake Lively once shared with David Letterman that she’d been held in Disney Jail after being caught trying to sneak into the park, saying “My brother thought it was a really good idea for us to go to Disneyland… So he put hairspray on the stamps of someone who came out, and then you put your hands together [to transfer the stamp to your hand] and then you go through the turnstile and we went through. Then there were these guys in normal outfits that said, ‘Come with us,’ and we went into Disney jail.”
Go Easy On the Alcohol
The security guards aren't only on the lookout for thefts, but they're also watching for undercover drinking. There are many undercover security guards watching your every move. And these security guards are not in obvious uniforms. So, it's probably not worth the buzz from the whiskey you brought into the park.
If you really want to purchase alcohol during your visit, you can go to the restaurant “Be Our Guest” located in The Magic Kingdom. And in Disneyland California, you can head on over to Club 33, that is, if you have a membership.
There are Secret Tunnels Below Disney World
Cast members aren’t allowed to take a walk around the park when they're on the clock. This policy may have originated from something that Walt Disney observed in Disneyland. He saw a Frontierland cowboy strolling through Tomorrowland. Seeing a character in the wrong setting ruins the story. So, to deal with this, underneath Disney World, there is a network of tunnels which connects different parts of the park. Cast members use these tunnels to travel around unseen by guests. Apparently, they are so big that some people get around the underground passages by cycling or taking small cars.
While some reports say that there's an entire underground tangle of passageways, the reality is not so mysterious. The tunnels are actually built at ground level, to avoid the area's high water table. The whole park is built 14 feet above ground level. These tunnels are more convenient, but they've also been reported to be foul smelling, hot and full of trash. But, cast members have to deal with this for the sake of the story.
Cinderella’s Mansion Has a Secret Suite
The secret suite in Cinderalla's castle was originally reserved for Walt and his family to stay in when they'd come to Disney World. But now, the winners of different Disney contests get to stay in the suite. Can you imagine winning?
It must be the perfect honeymoon spot for a wife who is obsessed with Disney.
A Loudspeaker Announcement is Always Important
Disney has a strict adherence to always keep the music playing. But, when there's an emergency, an exception is made. For example, when a child is lost. If you hear the music stop, you can expect that you are about to hear an important announcement.
A lot of us remember can recall where we were when 9/11 happened. Guests at Disney on that day definitely can’t forget. One former cast member shared that employees were told to close all attractions and get visitors off the premises but not to tell them why. The cast member shared, “By the way, the announcement that was made (over the public address system in the theme parks that morning did NOT mention anything about what had happened or why the parks were closing.” The announcement only sad that because of special circumstances, the Magic Kingdom is closed and that park goers should find the closest Cast Member.
The Kilimanjaro Safari Ride Could Be Deadly
The Kilimanjaro Safari is an attraction at Disney World Orlando’s Animal Kingdom park. Thanks to the hard work of the builders, the actual off-roading adventure looks like a real safari. Apparently, when you’re on the safari ride and the driver instructs you to stay in your seat, they fully mean it.
There's a certain spot where you drive on a bridge over crocodiles. Drivers are trained to drive away quickly just in case anyone falls in so that other guests aren't witnesses to what happens next.
Cast Members Have Three Days To Learn Their Lines
Disney is strict with having everything be top notch perfection. Well, they also demand perfection in a timely manner. The cast member training process includes spending just three days getting every line and action down to exactly as the script states. This sounds like an acting job prepping for filming! It's no wonder why a number of famous actors worked at Disney World prior to becoming actors. The late Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Costner, and Wayne Brady, just to name a few. One cast member shared what it was like after they were hired to be a costumed character. “Once you are selected, you head to ‘princess school,'” Harris explains. This is where characters go to train and learn their characters' backgrounds, practice the signature, mannerisms, accent, and favorite phrases. As part of her training, Harris watched the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland movie. Once she was cast, she had to watch the movie at least 50 times. This is a lot more than most of us see the average Disney film. Harris had to memorize all of her favorite lines, all of the vivacious characters in Alice’s world, her British accent, and all of her mannerisms.
On top of learning about your character, Cast Members must also all take a class called “Traditions.” This class teaches employees about the history and traditions of Disney and all the theme parks they run. After this class, cast members may continue their training at Disney University. The training facility is even bigger than some community colleges! This is especially cool for Disney employees who missed out on the college experience.
Not Exactly Ratatouille
While kids around the world loved the Disney-Pixar animated film Ratatouille, one park visitor wasn't so thrilled to see a real-life rat in a dining area of Disneyland.
Twitter user @hannaahelisee took a photo of the rodent and posted it on her social media for the whole world to seem with the caption: “pay my college tuition and i’ll delete @Disneyland.” That's a bit ridiculous lady, rats are a part of everyday life and you’re outdoors!
An Intoxicated Man Drowned in the Seven Seas Lagoon
Things aren't all magical at Disney World. Despite the great efforts that Disneyworld makes to keep things kid-friendly, some people still get away with their immature acts which sometimes bite back to literally kill them. According to a waiter who worked at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida for many years, an intoxicated New Hampshire man once got into a fight with his girlfriend in 2004. According to the waiter, the intoxicated man fell off the dock at the Grand Floridian and drowned in seven seas lagoon. Divers had to retrieve his body. The 26-year-old man, identified later as Sean Slattery, disappeared on Wednesday and the body wasn’t located until Friday.
In 2016, a separate incident occurred when a two-year-old toddler from Nebraska was mauled by an alligator while on vacation with his family. He was pulled into the lagoon in front of his terrified parents, and his body was found still intact the next day. Disney made an official statement regarding Graves’ death. They shared their devastation with the tragic death and said that their thoughts and prayers are with the family. They also said that they are helping the family as best as they can and doing everything they can to help law enforcement.
They Try Their Best to Keep Pedophiles Away
According to the same waiter, lifeguards and security staff in the park need to keep an eye out for pedophiles who may be hanging around the water park just to look at young kids.
Um, shouldn't this be standard at every pool?
Its a Top-Secret Club
There's a secret club right in the heart of New Orleans Square. This ultra-exclusive members-only bar is called Club 33 and it costs members $35,000 a year. The club has many celebrity members, including big names like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks, who are said to frequent the club often.
The hefty membership fee comes with more than just entry into the club. It also includes behind-the-scenes tours, fast passes to all Disney attractions, and a private car on the Disneyland Railroad. Sounds pretty nice if you're able to afford it!
Disney's Secret Menu!
Disney fans will be excited to know that the theme park offers a secret menu that are for visitors who are "in the know."
There are food items like Ice Cream Nachos and a Mac 'n' Cheese Bread Bowl. Fans can knock themselves silly with seriously delicious Disney treats.
Homeless Disney Characters Protest
In 2018, a Disneyland custodian was found dead after living in her car. Following this awful event, the company's low wages finally came under public display. One local protester in Anaheim, Jeanine Robbins, held signs reading “Disney, we feel, is a contributor to the homeless problem here in Anaheim.
There are Disney employees who live on the street.” Disneyland is the largest employer in Orange County, which is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.
The Job Comes With Plenty Of Perks
Although workers often complain of low wages, lofty expectations, and harsh conditions that Disney cast members have to endure, their jobs come with plenty of perks. Besides getting discounts on merchandise, food, and Disney-owned locations, cast members also get free entry to parks whenever they want, and at times, free entry for friends and family.
They also get to attend special events and cast member exclusive soft openings for new attractions!
Largest Staff In The World
At Florida's Walt Disney World, all of the cast members could create a new city. There are more than 70,000 cast members at Disney World alone and most live in Disney-owned accommodations.
It surely does take a village to run the Happiest Place on Earth.
First Name Basis
Disney cast members go the extra mile and make an added effort to call you by your first name. Did a cast member refer you by your first name when you were checking out and you found it out?
Well, they look for clues of your name on pins or hats, or by a quick glance down at your credit card.
Change Your Name if It's Taken
In the 1950's, it wasn't so common to address people you didn't know by their first name. But, Walt Disney didn't like being called "Mr. Disney." He insisted that people call him by his first name, Walt. So, cast members all have their first names on their name tags. Apparently, no two cast members can have the same name, so if yours is taken, you'll need to decide upon a variation of your name or middle name.
Cast members must wear a name tag at all times. If you lose your name tag or forget it at home, you can choose from a whole pile of gender neutral names like Sam and Alex. One cast member shared that when he lost his first name, he became Chris from New York for two weeks while waiting for his new name-tag to arrive.
The Men in White
It’s probably tough work being a cast member that manages rides or plays a costume character, but the hardest work is definitely that of custodial members. It was Lillian Disney (Walt's wife) who proposed that custodial members should wear all white. In this way, they would be extra careful with keeping their costumes clean. As a result, these employees are the easiest to find in the park if you’re looking for assistance.
They are also the ones who know the parks better than any other employee because they have the power to wander freely about the park. So, they have the answers to all your questions because they're more knowledgeable and accessible. A former Disney World College Program participant said that custodians are the best people to show you where something is. If you don’t understand the directions a cast member gives you, you should approach a custodian and ask them for help. A cast member doesn’t have the same freedom as a custodian and therefore doesn’t know as much about the park other than their confined location or job. So, if you need help, just look for a man or woman donning a pristine white jumpsuit.
Not an Easy Job
All cast members need to undergo extensive training and custodial cast members are no exception to this rule. There are Disney ways to sweep objects and certain chemicals to use for various clean-ups. In order to communicate with one another on the radio, they must learn a series of radio codes.
Although custodial cast members take on most of the job, every Disney employee takes part in keeping the park clean.
Cats on Duty
Speaking of keeping the park as clean as possible, there is a specific job that can be undertaken only by specific members of the Disney family: cats. The Disney parks have stray cats that roam the park at night in order to clear out unwanted pests and rodents.
These feral cats live in Disney but they come out at night only after visitors have gone home. While they weren't always welcome, they are now a good solution to controlling pests.
A lot of cast members tend to get catty themselves. There are forums in which past Disney cast members talk about the drama they had with other cast members. The person underneath the costume can be very different than the character he or she is playing.
One former cast member shared that the cafeteria for the cast members often felt like a scene from Mean Girls.
The Water Greener on the Otherside
Disney makes a huge effort to make everything look realistic to what it should be. But, have you noticed that the water color is a bit off? The water on the Jungle Cruise is green on purpose.
This is because Disney wanted guests to feel like they are floating in a boat on the water and not moving on stationary tracks.
Disney Owns a Lot of Real Estate
When he started to create Walt Disney World in Florida, Walt didn't want realtors to know that he was buying up all the land around his park. He didn't want prices to go up because it was owned by Disney.
In order to get around this, he used a lot of fake names and businesses to buy the land, which is why you could actually be on Disney property without realizing it because it's not being used. Many of the names came from businesses that are on Main Street U.S.A.
Don't Cry Kiddo
Disney has a no crying children rule which cast members must abide by. Of course, it's natural for children to get upset and cry. But Disney wants to help families have the best experience as possible for their entire family.
Admission tickets are expensive, lines can get aggravating, and mechanical problems on favorite rides can really put down a visitor's mood. So employees do everything possible to brighten up everybody's day.
Although cast members go great distances to make children happy throughout the parks, there are some families who will also go great distances to get their justice served. So many of Disney's costumed characters get sued. In one case from the 1980s, a performer who played Winnie-the-Pooh was sued after being accused of slapping a young girl.
The cast member won the case after showing up in full costume at court to show that his arms weren't capable of making any slapping movements.
A Complex Bike Network
When Hollywood Studios was a newer attraction at Walt Disney World, there was a system of bikes that cast members used underground to get around faster.
But, there were multiple bike thefts and damages so it didn't work out so well for them.
Mickey's Important Purpose
Have you noticed how Mickey waves and greets guests as they enter Crossroads of the World in Florida? Well, of course, you need Disney’s number one mascot Mickey to greet you, Mickey isn't only here for this purpose.
He actually serves a very important purpose: lightning rod. Because Florida is more susceptible to storms, Mickey’s ears are made out of copper so lightning will hit his ears in the event of such a disaster.