Cast Member Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
As anyone who as stood in line for two hours to ride Space Mountain can tell you: good things come to those who wait. I know it has been a while since we had the cast member perspective in Cast Place&, but once you read this you'll see it was worth it. These stories from both sides of the country show how some CMs go to great lengths to make magic for guestswe even have stories from CMs about other CMs. So grab a tissue and enjoy theseand don't forget to send us your stories (and please tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World City Halls, too).
Former Disney Store CM Randy's
I worked at the Disney Store in Roanoke, Virginia, and especially loved the Halloween season there. It was great fun to see the kids coming in and trying on their favourite Disney character costumes. In October 2004, my friend and I went to Walt Disney World (WDW) for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party and dressed as "hitchhiking ghosts" from the Haunted Mansion. I have to admit it was a bit strange riding on the WDW transportation bus from Port Orleans French Quarter to the Magic Kingdom (MK). We got a lot of funny looks on that ride! The CMs at the MK obviously enjoy (or at least acted like they enjoyed!) the Halloween Party. Several CMs came up to us telling us that the mansion was missing two ghosts and we needed to get back to work also that there were only 997 spirits and they had to have 999 there at all times and we had our pictures made with countless guests that evening. We were standing at the nightly parade and even the parade cast came up to us and carried on a bit. It made me very proud to be part of the Disney team. I'll retire to Florida when the time comes and hopefully work on park. Until then, don't change a thing! Love you all!
Epcot CM Anna's
I've been clicking on MousePlanet since September when I learned about your site on the Magic Panama Canal trip. The best vacation of my life but that is another story.
I have worked at Epcot for a year. I work two days a week. I am a retired school teacher from Kansas. My dream was always to work for Disney when I retired. I absolutely love it. I go to work happy and I drive home singing "Zippady-Doo-Dah! Why? The guests at Epcot are just fantastic. I love talking to themlearning about their families, their jobs, what they like about Disney, etc. They are so excited about being at WDW.
I'm a convention guide and do family gatherings, company convention, and weddings. When I walk to my office for my assignment I still get goose-bumps as Epcot is so beautiful and people are having such a good time. I always walk by the Victory Gardens. I think it is the prettiest place in WDW. I pinch myself because I work at WDW. Disney tries really hard to help their cast members be the best they can be. Disney believes we should do whatever we can do to make our guests happy. I have the best coordinators and managers. We have weekly meetings on how we can do a better job for our guests. Each day I go to work I say the seven guest-service guidelines to myself just so I concentrate on doing those things to make our guests have a magical day at Epcot. The pay is not the greatest but the perks are fantastic. It is very hard for Disney to find good workers for all the positions.
How can guests thank a CM? Fill out a form like you suggested or send a postcard to WDW. Believe me they keep track of all the comments. We get recognized when we get positive comments, it goes on our record and we are eligible for Disney prizes. I go home happy at night when my guests just say "thank you" I had a wonderful time. I truly believe Disney is number No. 1 in theme parks because of their cast members. The overwhelming majority of cast members want to make the guests stay a "magical time." Thanks for your wonderful articles.
2005 WDWCP Member James'
I was in the WDW college program for the Fall Advantage Program in 2005 and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! I was assigned the role of custodian, which I didn't really want, but I didn't turn down (after all, it's Disney! Why would I turn that down?). I got down there and was assigned to the Magic Kingdom-Main Street, to be exact. When I got down there, I went through the normal training, about a week or so of classes (Traditions, custodial training, etc). These classes cannot describe all of the incredibly different situations that I would eventually encounter. Throughout my experiences, I found out that I could not have asked for a better job. I'll start with my favorite story.
My friend, Brian (PJ was always his name on his nametag), and I always did a magic moment before the Spectromagic parade. Ours was a little bit different than those of the parade control people with the wand or the light stick or whatever. We would always go out at the five minute warning, and find a little girl, or a couple of kids usually around age 5 to 8. Not too young to be scared, but not too old to lose the magic. We would sit down and introduce ourselves with this story: "Hey, how are you? My name is PJ and this is my friend, Jamie" (or vice versa-we would also ask them their names). "We have ourselves a little bit of a problem, and I hope that you can help us out a little bit. You see, the parade is on its way. Mickey and his friends all have on these brand new light-up suits and he really wants to show them off. But, you seeit was our job to turn off the lights for you to see them, and we made the mistake of letting our friend, Goofy, hang out with us. Goofy kind of broke the switch, and we need some help. We asked Mickey what to do, and he told us somethingsomething that will be our little secret. You know the Magic Kingdom, where you are right now? You see, the secret is, is that it really runs on magic. What we need right now is some really magical people to get these lights off. Do you think you have some magic in you?"
Usually the child, or children, would immediately say yes or look to their parents. Sometimes the parents were able to push them, but we never forced them to come out. We got them in the middle of Main Street and did this: "Alright guys, what I need you to do is start rubbing your hands together. It is getting warm, isn't it? If it's getting too warm, blow on them. Alright, now clap your hands together a couple of times. Do you all feel that tingle when you clap your hands? Good, because that my friends, is that magic that you're going to use to shut these lights off. Now, what we are going to do is count to three, and when we say 'three,' we want you to take that magic, and blow it out into the air."
We knew the right time for the lights to go out, so when it was getting down to that point, we counted to three, and they would blow the "pixie dust" out of their hands. And, when you saw the look in those kids' eyes after they did this, you wouldn't believe the tingles that would shoot through your body. Those smiles are what made my whole night worthwhile. I always liked doing this so much more than with the light stick, because I wanted the kid to see that it wasn't that light that made the magic, it was them. They can make the magic themselves.
We did this at least five times a week and sometimes twice a night when we got to those heavy seasons. Once we did it at one place, we would go down to the next section of Main Street and repeat the process.
There are a couple of other stories that make my time there memorable. I was working at Casey's on Main Street one day, and there was a family there talking to me, and you know, about how my day is going, where they're from, etc. All of a sudden, the little girl breaks out her autograph book, and asks me for mine. So now some little girl out there has a signature from "Jamie the Custodian."
Another story I remember not being trained for was to dial the number of a calling card for a man that didn't speak any English whatsoever. I had a lot of times where I had to speak Spanish (I'm lucky that I've had a lot of experience with it in the past) and French (which I don't have a clue of how to speak).
I will also never forget the fireworks every night. After awhile, the music and the explosions become second nature, but you miss them so much when you aren't there anymore. I have so many more stories, and so many things to share with people now, and I couldn't possibly tell them all right now, but I will end on saying that it was by far the most magical time of my life and I will forever remember those people that made it happen, those co-cast members and guests that made my life as difficult and as easy as it was. I will forever love them and cherish the memories. Thanks to all of them!
2004 WDWCP Participant Lori Beth
I was a college program participant in 2004. I worked as a Magic Kingdom Vacation Planner, which means I sold tickets at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC) (where you catch the monorail or ferry to MK), and occasionally I got to work crowd control during the afternoon parade.
My memory is of the parade experiences: I would get the bubbles out to let the children (who were getting restless while they were waiting for the parade to start) play with them, and before I knew it, I was covered in sticky bubbles, but it was worth it, the kids were having a ball! I also would have a little squirt bottle and I would squirt passers by with a little cool water, something that is welcome in Florida in September! Once, another cast member told me that when Cruella DeVil comes by on the Villains float in the "Share a Dream Come True Parade" she likes the cast members to squirt her with the bottles. So, I made sure I was on the right side of the route, and got the bottle ready. When she came, me and the other cast member started squirting. She looked directly at me and said, "Put in on 'stream,' not 'spray, you idiot!"
I didn't realize there were two ways to use a squirt bottle, but I quickly switched it and got her good! I didn't take offense to her commentbeing a villain, it's expected. Plus, it was really funny!
One other parade memory is of another cast member I worked with. He would always sing "Happy Birthday" to those wearing birthday pins, and he would point out the little girls in princess dresses and have everyone bow to them like they were real royalty. Great times, I loved it!
WDWCP 2003 Participant Melissa
I always read and enjoy the stories about special cast members, and now I'd like to share one of mine. In 2003, I did a College Program internship and was a merchandise hostess at the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom.
A few weeks into my program, I was privy to a very special performance by the Dapper Dans of Main Street. As I was getting ready to leave one evening, I stopped in the back to say bye to some people, and I saw my manager. He was surrounded by the Dapper Dans. That day was a co-worker's birthday, and they were going to sing to her. I informed them that she had just left (she had left about 10 minutes before me), and they were all disappointed. I left the room, and the Dans followed me to the stairs.
One of them said to me, "Well, we can sing 'Happy Birthday' to you."
I said, "Oh, it's not my birthday."
As if they had been cued, they immediately broke into a rendition of the "Unbirthday Song" from Alice in Wonderland.
The song continued all the way down the stairs (there was a bit of an echo, too, and it sounded amazing), and I was blushing the whole time. It made me feel so special, and since that day, I have been a die-hard Dapper Dans fan.
2005 DL Food & Beverage CM Skyler's
I read the last Cast Place column or section and was very disappointed in Cast Members that sent in information. So I thought I would share the story about me working at the Happiest Place on Earth last summer.
I was in the Food & Beverage Department working at Bu-r-r-bank Ice Cream Shop, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Bakersfield and the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. It was such an awesome experience, working at Disneyland, meeting all the new people (coming from a small town in Colorado there was a lot of "catching up" to do).
Now onto the story. One day I was working as a busser for Burrbank/Bakersfield in DCA. The Electrical Parade had just ended and I was finishing up my rounds: wiping tables, sweeping, and throwing trash. Before I knew it I was in a conversation with a young girl in a wheelchair and her family. The neat part was that this was her first visit to the Disneyland Resort and the second part was that she had the same name as me! Spelled exactly the same way. (My name is Skyler and most people only know the name to be a girls' name, but spelled Skylar with an A instead of an E).
I took one look at my nametag (the nice shiny one's with 50th written all over 'em that are only available for cast members) and decided I was going to give it to this little girl. So I removed my nametag and gave it to her and her face just lit up. It was maybe the most powerful, moving moment I've ever experienced. She said thank you and we finished our conversation and I wished them well and a happy evening.
Shortly after it was time for me to leave as my shift was over for the day. As I headed out of the "train" the same family was still there. I smiled and waved. Before I got two or three steps away, the mother of that same girl came up and said thank youalmost in tearsfor my gesture to her daughter. She gave me a hug even! I have never been more proud of a single action ever!
It was a testament to my belief that little things do count and those are the things that last a lifetime. I will remember Skyler until I grow old and the memory fades and I hope she remembers the cast member that gave up his name tag just for her on her first visit to Disneyland.
Working at Disneyland was a dream come true for me, and because of that I made sure every guest I came into contact with was delighted with that special 'Disney' touch.
[Note: It is not recommended you give out name tags as it constitutes a punishment, but since I was leaving the resort in two weeks I chose to give my tag out to a guest.]
DL CM Diane's
I just wanted to say thanks for posting letters like these. I myself am a Disneyland cast member. Though I work "backstage" and do not get to directly see how we provide magic in the park, this site helps me remember the reason I was so excited to become a cast member. Being a Disney fanatic that I am, it still brings a smile to my face seeing how Disney just goes above and beyond with, what other companies would call "customer/guest service." That when we read letters like this, that the cast members now experience their own Disney magic.
I have personally seen how the magic affects people closer to my heart. Since working here, it has been a little harder to see how we can change a person's mood in mere seconds.
I have a ex-coworker from my other place of employment that was a huge fanatic. We often chatted of our Disney experiences, and talk of gossip from the park. Well, he recently lost his other half, and is surviving with their two children. I get to see them often at work. Recently, I was able to work a guest control shift in the park and ran into my coworker and his family by the Haunted Mansion. They had just gotten off of it. All it took was a cast member to say that "mommy was with the grinning ghosts," to change the little girl from riding the mansion in tears, to riding in happinesswhich hadn't been the case for the previous rides. She now brags when she sees me that her mom is a "happy haunt"and then the little girl sings "Grim Grinning Ghosts" word for word.