My Disney Top 5 - Walt Disney World Jobs I'd Like to Haveby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Summer 2015 is winding down and for one of the first times in at least a dozen years I don’t have an exact date for my next return trip to Walt Disney World. We usually head down there in late August or for a long weekend in the fall. I know I’ll get there sooner or later, but I currently don’t have anything booked and it’s starting to get to me. Right about now, I’m typically counting down the days. It’s always a comforting feeling to know that you’ve got that trip set and you’ll be back immersed in the magic real soon.
As I enter this potential long stretch away from Walt Disney World, I’ve started to think about what I miss the most and what I can’t wait to do upon my return. I’ve also wondered what it would be like if I lived closer to Orlando and getting there wasn’t so costly and inconvenient. Would I be at the parks constantly? Would I stay in the hotels that I love so much if I lived closer? Dare I say it, would I ever get tired of the place?
With all of these types of thoughts racing through my head and an article deadline on the horizon, I started to think, “What if I made the ultimate commitment and moved down to Florida to be closer to Walt Disney World?” While I was entertaining that thought, I took the big mental leap and started to ponder not just living nearby, but also actually working within the magic itself. The question became, “What job at Walt Disney World would I actually want to have if I could?" And thus a Top 5 list was born.
Now, I’ve been around the block enough to know that the grass is never that much greener on the other side of the fence, even if that fence happens to be a Disneyfied fence. A job is a job is a job. Just because you love a place doesn’t mean you want to work there. Conversely, just because you work in a place doesn’t mean you’re going to ever want to be there after your shift is done. Take my 16-year-old daughter for example. During the summer, she works at the local YMCA as a swim instructor, primarily in their awesome outdoor pool. For many years we’ve had a family membership at the Y and have all spent many a hot, sweltering summer day or evening cooling off at the pool. Once she started working there, however, the pool became the last place she wanted to go to after work or on the weekend, no matter how hot it is. It’s kind of like working in an ice cream parlor and getting sick of ice cream. Perish the thought, but it does happen.
I realize that working in the Magic Kingdom might just tarnish the magic for me a little bit. Working for The Muppets way back when was pretty darn cool, but people there sat around and complained about work just like the staff that we could see across the street working for Company XYZ or the guys downstairs at the corner deli. I’m willing to go out on a limb here a bit and be hopeful, if not realistic. I’m going with optimism and imagining that a job inside of the magic at Walt Disney World has the potential to be just that: potentially magical.
This list is full of jobs that I happen to think would be pretty cool. I’m sure there’s a cast member reading this who would say something like, “Boy, if he only knew what it was really like!” But, if you want to spend all of your time in fantasyland, you have to buy into the fantasy and that’s what I’m doing for the purpose of this article.
I’ll bet that many of you Disney fans out there have often stopped to think, just for a moment, “What if I don’t pack this bag and check out of The Yacht Club tomorrow morning? What if I stayed here and never left the magic behind? What would I do?” Well, I’ve had those same thoughts many times, so here’s the Top 5 Walt Disney World Jobs I’d Like to Have.
5 – Surf Instructor at Typhoon Lagoon
The beauty of the wave pool at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is that you get a perfectly rideable wave every single time. Take it from someone that’s been chasing waves since he was 16; the perfect wave is just about impossible to find. I realize it’s fake and it’s not at a natural surf break, but I could definitely deal with waking up and knowing that I was going to get several perfect rides each and every day I went to work. Plus, turning people on to the amazing feeling that you get when you ride a wave would be pretty cool. Then, after that early morning surf session, I could head to the parks and enjoy them as much as I want!
4 – Anything Star Wars
I can’t even to begin to imagine what’s coming our way at Disney’s Hollywood Studios given this past weekend’s announcement. I would love to work at Star Wars Land and it’s not even built yet. In the meantime, I’ll be a cast member at Tatooine Traders and be around cool Star Wars merchandise all day. Better yet, put me into a Stormtrooper suit every day for the Jedi Training Academy because, well I’d get to wear a Stormtrooper suit. I’ve been dreaming of doing that since 1977.
3 – A Cool Face Character
My wife was shocked that I didn’t want to be Mickey Mouse. After all, he’s on my shirts, my watches, my favorite drinking glasses and just about everything else you could think of in my life. While I do think it would be pretty awesome to be so universally adored and truly be the head mouse in charge, I don’t think I’d like to remain quiet in the Mickey suit each day. I’d love to be able to verbally interact with the guests and the kids. I think it’d be pretty awesome to be Jack Sparrow, and yes, I’ve read the infamous stories from Disneyland and no, that’s not the reason. I’d like to be somebody with personality that a guest would always remember like maybe Flynn Rider or the wacky Mad Hatter. People say I’ve never really grown up so maybe I’d be a good Peter Pan. No offense to them, but I’d rather not be one of the eye candy waving princes on a float. It would be much more fun being out in the crowd interacting with the guests as a character that could actually speak to them.
2 – Monorail Pilot
This one’s a no brainer. I’m sure it can get dull, and it’s not as glamorous as the guests may think it is, but I’d still love to be behind the controls of one of those things. There’s just about no cooler vehicle anywhere. Give me the route from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot so I can be behind the wheel for longer stretches please.
1 – Boat Captain
I love being on the water and I’ve been on boats since I was just a tot, so this is what I’d like to do all day at Walt Disney World. I can’t imagine driving the Friendship boats back and forth across World Showcase Lagoon and I really don't have any interest in driving the ferryboats across the Seven Seas Lagoon all day. If I had my preference it would be either the Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary, and Magic Kingdom loop or the Epcot, Yacht and Beach, BoardWalk, Swan and Dolphin, and Hollywood Studios route. Those are pretty and the scenery changes fairly consistently. It would also be pretty cool to drive those smaller African Queen-ish launches back and forth to the Polynesian and Grand Floridian from the Magic Kingdom. I also wouldn’t rule out the Sassagoula River Cruise from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney. Sometimes I find myself as a passenger thinking, “Yeah, I could do this all day and be pretty happy.”
There are so many more that I could think of in addition to my Top 5 Walt Disney World jobs. I’d love to be a tour guide and take people around the Magic Kingdom showing off all of the hidden details. It’s probably a lot of fun to be a Jungle Cruise Skipper, but I might grow tired of the same bad jokes all day. I’ve never worked with animals but I bet it’d be pretty intense to work with the incredible wildlife at Animal Kingdom. Given my years of TV and film industry experience, I could probably qualify for some type of technical production job, but I've been there and done that. I could go on and on really. There are dozens of options. I'd love to work with my wife side by side as Disney gardeners. That wouldn't be such a bad life.
You’ll notice that I left off the upper tier jobs like Imagineer or President of the resort. Granted, it’d be pretty awesome to be an Imagineer and quite profitable to be one of the top suits in charge, but I tried to be a little more realistic. I’m not sure I have what it takes to play Jack Sparrow and I think I’ve aged myself out of the Peter Pan job, but I can live a little vicariously can’t I? If my knees hold up and I drop 20 or 30 pounds the surf instructor job isn’t completely ridiculous.
In the end it was two of the simpler jobs that I yearned for the most and that took the top spots. People love the monorail and I kind of think if you’re the pilot, there’s a certain level of Disney mystique that comes along with driving these iconic vehicles. Besides, how many monorail pilots have you ever met anywhere else? It's definitely a small club.
For me though, being on the waterways of Walt Disney World was really what I’d like to do. It’s a little bit away from the craziness. I’ve had some really wonderful moments on those boat trips, peacefully soaking up the surroundings. I can remember my daughter falling asleep in my arms on the quiet ride back to Port Orleans from a busy evening at Downtown Disney. What I wouldn’t give to have that moment again. Equally as memorable was gazing at the moon’s beautiful reflection on Seven Seas Lagoon with my boys on our way back home to the Polynesian. On our grown-ups only trip to the Wilderness Lodge, my wife and I found our boat rides back and forth to the Magic Kingdom to be downright romantic at times, especially early in the morning when the sun is low and reflecting on the water and the lagoon is teeming with wildlife.
I’d really like to be the captain that enables memories like those to happen as I deliver families to and from the magic. That wouldn’t be a bad way to spend each day, now would it?
What do you think? What would be your dream job at Walt Disney World? As always, I’d like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below; let me hear your thoughts and I’ll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.