Cast Member Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
It's been a while since our last column, but this one is worth the wait. Today's Cast Place was inspired by a discussion on the first episode of MouseStation, MousePlanet's new podcast, in which we asked the following thought-provoking questions:
- Do you think the "Year of a Million Dreams" helps or hurts the magic-making at the parks?
- Does magic happen "on schedule" or does it just happen?
We'll let you peruse the reader stories below and make the call (and please e-mail us with your opinions). And don't forget, we're always looking for stories about cast member interactionand guest interactionat any of the "Disney Destinations" around the world. Happy reading!
Norma Jean's Story
We have a timeshare at Walt Disney World (WDW) so we are there a couple of times a year with our family (I'm grandmom). We look forward to the Animal Kingdom Paradewe have a spot that we like to see the parade atand we get there early to save our spot.
Three out of last four times we were there we saw one of the cast membersand I wish I went to the extra trouble to find out his namean older man, tall and slim, dancing and dancing and dancing. We go to that spot just to see him. He is truly an amazing cast member. We have a video of just him. Instead of watching the parade we always end of watching him.
Thanks for that wonderful memory. I have never had a bad experience with a cast membermy son did the College Program. We will be there in just 10 days and we will be at our usual spot at Animal Kingdom, watching the parade and hoping to get a glimpse of our dancer.
My family has had two wonderful experiences that stand out in my memory. The first time I took my oldest son to WDW he was about 3 years old. Cam loved the dwarves from Snow White. He would watch the movie over and over. Grumpy was his special favorite and he had a neat Grumpy baseball hat that he wore all the time.
He loved imitating Grumpy with his arms crossed and frowning face. Well we were waiting for the parade. Of course it was hot and we were all tired and Cam was just about done. Toward the end of the parade is Snow White. She spotted my scowling son in the crowd and came over to him motioning for Dopey to come over, also. They both danced with him for a little bit. It thoroughly wiped the scowl off his face!
Another time at WDW I had a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old. We were walking by one of the restrooms and Cinderella and two of her mice friends were there. They asked if they could take the baby out of the carriage. They sat in a circle with the baby on Cinderella's lap and my older son next to her and played a clapping game. These are the details that make the place so great!
My wife and I were married June 7, 2003 and honeymooned at WDW. Of course being newlyweds, everyone has that golden nugget of advice for a happy marriageand WDW cast members are no exception. While talking with a CM (I can't remember if she was a pin trader or selling Disney Vacation Club) she says, "If you can wake up each morning and say 'I've got the best' you'll be just fine."
My wife and I say that to each other all the time. We returned to WDW in December 2006 and stopped in at the Casting Center. Hopefully one day very soon we'll be able to pass along some magic of our own to park visitors!
During our most recent trip to WDW, we experienced Disney magic from a CM. In the early afternoon, I was pushing our double-stroller, containing my 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. We had just arrived in Epcot after spending the morning at Magic Kingdom and the kids were tired. As we went past the fountain in Epcot, I noticed a little arm (my daughter's) hanging out the side of the stroller holding her Minnie Mouse red polka-dot baseball hat. I stopped the stroller, yelled about the arm, and it, and the hat, diappeared back into the stoller. A minute later, and further toward the beer with my name on it in England, the same thing happened. Again, I stopped and the arm went back into the stroller with the hat.
When we arrived in England, my son asked what happened to my daughter's hat. I looked in the stroller, dug through our bags, and finally realized, it was gone. Of course, my daughter dropped it, and I, in my naiveté, thought this would make for a good learning experience. I explained to her why she lost it and that she needed to take better care of her other things. She promptly freaked outhere is where it gets good.
We walked fast (OK, we ran) back along the route we came in on. When we didn't find it all the way back to the fountain, I walked up to the nearest souvenir stand and explained what happened. The CM working lit up and said someone turned it in at the stand across the walkway. We ran over there and the CM didn't know a thing about it. She started fumbling through several drawers and just when I was ready to give up, the CM from the other booth appeared and when she realized that they couldn't find it, reached up on the shelf, grabbed the identical hat off, cut off the tags and put it on my daughter's head. The CM will probably never realize the significance of what she did, but let me tell you, I run a business and have told this story to all of our employees, and probably told it 20 more times after that. It was magic in action.
I just read many of the stories of CMs making magic and I just had to tell you about one of my own. When we went to WDW in 1999, my youngest son was then 4 years old. He had just learned to write his own name. Of course, we bought the autograph books but he didn't quite "get" that it's the character's signatures that we were afterevery time we got out the autograph book he wanted to write his name in it. I kept gently explaining that: no, this is for the characters to write their names in.
Cinderella would have none of this. She actually sat down right on the pavement with him and she being dressed in her ball gown and patiently watched, waited and encouraged him while he wrote out his name. Then she hugged him and told him how very proud of him she was and what a smart boy he was.
Here it is seven years later and I still tear up when I think about how magical she made that one moment.
Thank you for your cast stories! As I was reading your article I realized that I know 2005 WDWCP Member James. I used to help with the first part of his story [which involved making some magic during the Spectromagic parade] and it is one of the greatest things ever. Reading this brought back so many good memories. Thank you.
I am an ex-cast member and have read stories about cast members spreading a little extra Pixie Dust for guest. To this day when I read stories like this there are tears in my eyes. Just knowing that I, at one time, worked with such wonderful and caring people always made meand still makes mesmile. After reading countless stories, I never thought it would happen to me.
My story starts four years ago when my daughter was 12. We went to Disneyland to celebrate opening day on July 17.Since we lived in the Southern California area at the time, I thought it would be a treat to stay the overnight at the Disney Pacific Hotel. I had called to make reservations but a cast member told me not to worry there where plenty of rooms and I should not have a problem getting one. So I took his advice and did not make room reservations.
My daughter was so happy that we would be staying the night (we had done it once before). When we arrived at the hotel, the cast member at the front desk was named Hope, and she told us that there was no rooms at her hotel or The Disneyland Hotel. My daughter became upset. Hope reassured her not to worry that we should go to the park and start our day but that we could go to City Hall and call the hotel to see if a room opened up. I figured with a cast member named Hope giving us this advice how could we go wrong. We entered the park around 2 p.m. and went to have lunch at the Plaza Inn. After lunch we went to City Hall and they told us they had one room at the Disneyland Hotel if we did not mind a handicapped room.
We took the room and went right over to the hotel. We checked in and went to check out the room, which overlooked the pool.
At this point, we had been at the park a full hour, and since it was the weekend of July 17 it was full. We thought we would go swimming for a little bit have dinner and then go back to the park. At the pool my daughter was swimming and having a good time. When I told her it was time to go, she asked to jump just one more time. I did not see a problem with this, but when she jumped in she hit the bottom and landed on her foot (twisting her ankle).
As we where walking out of the pool area, with her leaning on me, a cast member stopped us asking if she could help. My daughter said no she was fine and just wanted to get to our room. We made it just outside the pool gates when we had to sit down.
Another cast member took notice and came by to make sure we where all right. He ended up getting us a wheelchair to get her back to our room. Once we where settled in our room. There was knock on the door it was the nurse and security guard from the park to check on her ankle. As the nurse was checking her out, there was another knock on the door and it was room service with milk and Mickey-shaped cookies. We ended up going to the ER and having them look at it. Disney escorted us all the way. Luckily, nothing was broken.
All my daughter could do, as we sat in the hospital and had her leg braced, was think about what rides she could get on with the wheelchair. We had not been on any rides at that time. We had only had lunch. By the time we got back to the hotel and got over to the park it was 10 p.m. and everything was closed for eating. We went to Tinkerbell's Toy Shop after walking around and not finding any restaurant open. There a cast member asked what had happened when he saw my daughter in the wheelchair and her leg in the brace. We told him our story and how we had not eaten anything since lunch. He told his supervisor he was leaving and would be back. Walked us back down Main Street to Carnation Gardens and had us sit down. He went inside and talked with another cast member. He came back with two hot dogs, chips, and drinks and would not take any money when I offered to pay.
He told us to go to City Hall before we left and tell them our story. I took his advice and the cast member there gave us two tickets to come back to the park within the next year. The next morning we had the same treatment from everyone we ran into. The Mad Hatter at breakfast gave her a special tea bag to make her feel better (she still has the tea bag), the front desk at the hotel ended up giving me back my money for the room since we had not really gotten our full use of it other than to just sleep.
I was in shock. And as I stated before I had heard stories of cast members going the extra mile for a guest. This may have not been your normal day at Disneyland, but I can tell you it is one of my special ones due to all the cast members that had a little extra Pixie Dust!
Shoshana, I read a bit of your article on Disney romance ("Love Disney"), and I wanted to share with your my story. My wife and I had our first date at the Disneyland Cast Member Christmas party in 2001. We had our wedding inside the park (without the knowledge of Disneylandwe brought in our own minister, had friends form a ring around us, and had our quick ceremony inside Disneyland), in fact we got married on the exact spot where we'd kissed for the first time. How many couples can claim that? We've since collected all kinds of wedding-themed cloisonne pins, showing bride Minnie, groom Mickey, weddings, cakes, and the Snow White grottowhere we were married.
People should ask Cast Members what all can be done, I'm sure we're not the only ones with a fantastic story to tell.
Our two magical moments occurred when our daughter, Belle, was approximately 3 years old (1995). She is actually named Isabelle, after her great grandmother, but we have had great fun with associating her with one of Disney's best role models for girls as well. Anyway, we were at MGM Studios on this occasion. We were to eat breakfast at what was then the Soundstage studio, and were walking along Main Street when we encountered Sarge. Belle asked him for directions to the restaurant.
He promptly took her by the hand and marched her over to the studio in true Marine style, taught her how to salute, and departed. It was great fun for her. We then ate our breakfast, after which she purchased a plastic lamp which had the genie's voice and would talk if a motion sensor was triggered. We then went up to visit with Aladdin & Jasmine and they spent a great deal of time with Belle, looking at the lamp and talking to her. Later that day we were watching the parade, when Aladdin and Jasmine came by on the float. Belle was on her grandpa's shoulders, and it must have been the same two cast members as Aladdin & Jasmine, because I saw Jasmine spot Belle, and turn to Aladdin and say, "Look, there's Belle", and both of them waved to her and blew her kisses. She was deliriously happy all day, because these three actors were so kind, and gave her special treatment. Those were our family's magical moments.
I enjoy reading the cast member stories. As frequent visitors to the parks and resort, my family members have been touched by many CMs. Do you know of an e-mail address for Disneyland City Hall so we may let them know electronically of our "magical" experiences?
I spoke to someone at Disneyland Guest Relations at (714) 781-7290. You are in luck-there is a way to do it electronically... go to www.disneyland.com and click on "Contact Us" at the bottom of the page. Then in the subject line of the message, just type what it is for and it will get to City Hall.
Sharon, Jennifer and Ciara ask:
We are looking for a cast member by the name of Jeff Clark. The last time we were at the park, we were told that he no longer drove the boats from MGM to the other resorts, but that he was working at Animal Kingdom, on the safari ride. He was very nice to help me and my daughter and granddaughter to see four parks in two days. Your help will be very appreciated.
If anyone knows Jeff at Animal Kingdom, please have him contact Cast Place.
Is it possible to ask Former Disney Store CM Randy (Cast Place, Aug. 15) for pix of his costumes of the Hitchiking Ghosts? I'd also be interested in how he put them together, since my buddies and I would love to do this for Halloween!
Randy, if you send them to us, we will be happy to run them.