Two years ago, I had just graduated from the University of Florida, and decided to take a leap into the unknown and apply for a job at DISNEY WORLD in Orlando. To my surprise and initial delight, I was accepted, and so began my long journey to the “Most Magical Place On Earth”. Or so I thought…
Working at Disney World may seen like a dream job to visitors, but behind the scenes, we are placed in shackles and forced to follow a very large and very strict rule book. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of great times, but here are 20 SECRETS everybody needs to know about working at Disney World…
This may sound a little confusing, but when you are employed by Disney, you immediately become a “Cast Member.” Disney never refers to us as “employees” or “staff,” only by our first names – which are displayed on our badges. Rumour has it, this is because Walt believed it was way more personal. And to be fair, Walt was right.
When you are first recruited, Disney provides you with a whole book dedicated to how you are supposed to look whilst on the job. It is appropriately named the THE DISNEY LOOK BOOK. Hidden within its pages is everything you need to know about the appearance of a cast member…
You can’t just go to work looking like you’d want. Disney has very strict rules when it comes to clothes, accessories, hair and even fingernails! Employees are not allowed to have long nails, their hair has to be neatly arranged and tattoos are not allowed.
As you can imagine Disney accumulates quite a lot of stuff in Lost Property every single day. Once the cameras, phones, clothing, designer bags, and sunglasses have been stored for the allocated time, they are then sold to Cast Members in a special store. Don’t worry, all the money received is donated back to charity.
Every Disney employee has to know the answer to any question, no matter how ridiculous it may be. For example, if a visitor asks at what time the 3:00 parade starts, you must smile politely and give the obvious reason. Never mock the visitors!
Disney cast members basically have to learn a SPECIAL LANGUAGE when they arrive. As I said before, employees are not referred to as “staff,” only “cast members,” whilst the customers are known only as “guests.” If guests wander into areas that are off limits to them, it is referred to as going “BACKSTAGE.” It therefore makes sense that everywhere else is called “ON STAGE” – yep, the entire thing is one big show.
Everyone knows that vomiting at Disney World is actually pretty common. But employees are not allowed to talk about it as the word “vomit” it’s not allowed inside the park. Instead, they have special codes for every accident.
One of Disney’s magic rules is that you should never point with just ONE FINGER. Firstly, in many cultures it is considered rude, and secondly, Walt apparently HATED it. Instead, you must guide guests with the index finger accompanied by the middle finger (known as the “Disney Point”), or use an open palm.
It is imperative that Disney “keeps the magic alive,” therefore, Cast Members are not permitted to take snaps backstage. In fact, your contract with Disney will be TERMINATED IMMEDIATELY if you are caught taking pictures in costume. Walt’s predecessors run a pretty tight ship, something I learned the hard way…
The entire Disney park is a huge stage for every employee, even when they’re not performing. Even when walking on the streets staff has to stay in character, stop for photos and act like they’re supposed to.
At Disney you must never walk past litter. or draw attention to the fact that you are getting rid of litter. Instead you must perform the “DISNEY SCOOP” and discreetly dispose of the litter whilst on the move – you must not STOP or BEND OVER. I must admit that it was a difficult skill to master, but you get there in the end.
Employees can’t ruin the magic for children and whenever they are asked if they are the real Mickey Mouse, the performer will say that he or she is Mickey’s best friend instead.
One of the most interesting things about Disneyland that most people don’t know about is that there is a special Disney University. Everyone who wants to get a job at Disneyland will need to attend the University where they will learn how to do their jobs properly.
You can’t have any tattoos or piercings as a Disneyland employee, but that is not where things end. You also cannot shape your beard and the mustache should never extend over the lip!
Cast Members get asked the same questions every single day. Most of the time you shrug them off because, hey, you are at Disney so you have to be polite. However, when you get asked what time the “THREE O’CLOCK parade” is for the 100th time that day, you can’t help but die a little inside…
As I previously mentioned, Disney has some pretty strict rules on appearance. In keeping with this, you are not allowed to have TATTOOS (unless they can be discreetly covered), body piercings (other than one in each year), earlobe expansions or any disfiguring skin implants.
Even though Rapunzel has the longest hair in the Disney Universe, no one else is allowed to wear theirs as they please. Both male and female cast members are not allowed to shave their eyebrows. Women’s hair needs to always be brushed and while braids might be allowed, beads are not.
Crew members will often change shifts every 30 minutes and the first thing that they need to do before getting accepted for the job is to take pictures in the same position as the other person who is wearing the costume. This way, the Mickey Mouse experience will always be the same.
Wearing a big and furry suit is not an easy task and you will get really warm after a while. This makes you wonder, how do they deal with the overwhelming heat? The answering to this question is that character performers are running on a 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off schedule.
Not everyone can be a princess at Disneyland and there are a couple of requirements that all cast members need to meet. For example, all female cast members need to be between 5’4” and 5’8” in order to play a princess.
If you like getting your nails done on the regular, then working at Disneyland might not be the right job for you. Women’s fingernails can’t exceed a quarter of an inch past the fingerprint. To make things even worse, nail polish is not allowed at all!
Even though you might think that everyone who works at Disneyland is not having a good time, this isn’t the case. Working at Disneyland has its perks and the perfect example of this is getting free entry to parks during their off days.
Disneyland employees don’t just get to access rides for free, they can also work hard and earn guest passes that they can give to their family members and friends.
Water rides, popcorn, Rome burning inside Spaceship Earth and even Disney resort toiletries have very distinct smells. The Disney company is aware that certain smells can transport people in time, reminding them of everything that makes them happy. Engineers are working constantly to provide these smells and people actually swear that the entire park smells like something they never felt before.
During orientation, Cast Members are taught some pretty interesting facts about Disney. One that sticks in my mind is that the Animal Kingdom is sunk into the ground. Apparently this creates a more preferable climate for the animals contained there.
Did you ever stop to take a look at the walls when you were at Disney World? There are hidden things everywhere!
In 2007, Pluto was taking a picture with a group of people when a young boy was told by an adult in his group to pull Pluto’s tail to see if he barks. The boy does as he is told and Pluto nearly looses his balance. He turns and shakes his finger at the boy. The boy not liking what Pluto just did then proceeded to kick him and a chase ensues.
In July 2019, a fight broke out between a group outside of the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride. The group was upset that their FastPasses were not valid for the ride and began berating the employee until it got to a point where the tourist punched the woman in the face. The attacker was banned from Disney for life and the employee has declined to comment or to receive treatment for her eye.