Cast Member Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
Today's Cast Place is filled with Magical Moments—both literally and figuratively. Some of our stories were submitted to Mark Goldhaber and Mike Demopolous of MousePlanet's own MouseStation Podcast. The podcast is looking to talk with current and former cast members for upcoming segments—if you are interested in being on one of the MouseStation podcasts, e-mail them here.
And since we love hearing a good story, a big shout out goes to MousePlanet reader and MousePad poster Kenneth White (aka Kennythepirate), who was one of 25 people selected by Careerbuilder.com to live his or her dream as a Disneyland cast member for a day.
My son, Larry, and his wife, Kerry, live in Florida. They have season passes to Walt Disney World and have taken their two children, Michael, 3 and Emily, 1, weekly! They had an addition to their family on Dec. 14, 2006. Another little girl they named, Abigail. They knew from the fourth month of the pregnancy that little Abigail would not survive and perhaps would not even survive her birth.
Much to the surprise of all, little Abigail came into the world weighing 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Her little brain did not divide and develop properly plus she had many other defects. However, she was able to breathe on her own and her parents brought her home on the third day. We all visited with her. We held her and loved her. She never opened her eyes. She never cried.
On December 28, Larry came home from work and announced that they were all to get into the car to take their precious Abigail to the Magic Kingdom. At this time, she only weighed 2 pounds, 9 ounces as she was unable to receive any nourishment. All her parents could do was wet her tiny lips with water.
They took the 30-minute ride from Apopka to Orlando and entered the park. While watching the parade on Main Street, they were approached by a woman who had become very interested in the tiny package wrapped in a white blanket, held by Kerry. Kerry usually doesn't converse with "strangers" when out with the children but she was quite comfortable talking with this woman.
This woman was wearing a uniform and told them she worked for Disney. Kerry explained to the woman who asked what this tiny baby was doing out of the hospital. Kerry explained that Abigail was terminal and they had brought her for a day at Disney. This woman then left for a few minutes and came back with stuffed animals for the children. She also guided them to the front of the lines at the various rides. And then, she was gone.
Larry, Kerry and the three children left the park after a while, and rode home for baths and dinner. Little Abigail was placed in her little bed and within an hour of returning from the Magic Kingdom, she left this world for a much greater place.
I would like to thank this "stranger" if indeed she was working for Disney (maybe she was an angel). She was kind and loving. My children will never forget the day they took Abigail to the Magic Kingdom for her first and last time.
Last summer I went to Walt Disney World on my own for the first time (I've been three times with my family). I was already working in Orlando for the week and had arranged to take some vacation after my work responsibilities finished.
When I went to check in I discovered that the hotel I had selected was the conference center hotel. I'd been in a conference center all week so I called the front desk and asked to transfer. They didn't give me any hassle and rebooked me in a different hotel. Long story short when they transferred the room my park tickets didn't make it.
I got up the next morning and headed straight to Epcot. I scanned my room key and it gave me the red X, so before I even got a chance to try a second time a cast member was asking me if I needed some help. I told her that I'd purchased the tickets at the hotel but that I had transferred so she looked it up and issued me a comp ticket on the spot. The whole exchange cost me less than 10 minutes and I was off to enjoy the day. But it gets better.
When I got back to the hotel I went by the front desk to make sure everything was straightened out with my tickets. Turns out that they didn't actually update anything, but the hotel manager fixed my tickets for the rest of the trip and upgraded them to park-hopper passes instead of single park passes.
That little bit of Disney magic let me visit the Magic Kingdom and "Fantasmic!" at the Disney-MGM Studios (which I'd otherwise written off as something I'd have to come back to "next time").
These cast members were on the ball and truly shared the Disney magic!
Unfortunately this was before I had discovered this site so I didn't manage to catch any of their names. Nevertheless that's my little bit of Disney Magic!
I've grown up in Disneyland, living only one hour away—but the most truly magical moment for me was when I was 3 (I'm 20 now but this is one of my clearest memories).
My parents had taken us to Disneyland that year for Christmas to enjoy Mickey's Magical Ball. The Ball took place Christmas Eve on the top floor of the Marina Tower at the Disneyland Hotel. Mickey, Santa and Mrs. Claus were going to be there for holiday cheer and treats for little guests.
Fully expecting it to be packed, my parents told me I might not be able to see Mickey for very long, but I didn't care. I put on a puffy red dress and eagerly ran to the elevator to meet Mickey, my absolute favorite character. Imagine my parents' surprise when we got to the party and there was no other child there! I ran to Mickey giggling ang laughing and he knelt down on one knee and hugged me like he had been waiting. He then stood and bowed and motioned that he wanted to dance. I danced with Mickey the whole night! My mom was crying.
The next morning we went into Disneyland and all I could talk about was seeing Mickey again. We spotted him down by the Plaza Inn (this was when the characters still wandered and didn't have assigned places) and I immediately ran over to him.
There were several other children but when I got to the front he pointed at me clapped and then gestured dancing, I hadn't said anything to give away who I was, just another eager child in the line. He then bowed, got down on one knee like the night before and held out his hand. I ran right over. My mother's mouth dropped opened: "He remembers you."
What are the odds it would be the same Mickey, but whoever you are thank you so much for that magical experience, Mickey was real to me and I thank you for that!
In November 2006, my husband and I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for our second anniversary. As we had done on our honeymoon trip, we made "Party for the Senses" our last night out. After a fabulous time in 2004, we knew it was the way to end things in style. We also knew that getting to the event from the hotel on time was critical. As much as we appreciate Disney transportation, when time is of the essence, you simply don't want to deal with the buses. So we left our room that night, decked out for the festivities, with the intention of grabbing a cab.
When we arrived at the front of the hotel we inquired from some of the cast members where they recommended we should have the cab drop us off since the World Showcase is in the middle of Epcot. They agreed the back entrance would be the best and then one cast member (whose name I unfortunately can't remember) told her fellow cast members she was leaving to take us over there! We jumped in their vehicle and she whisked us away to our destination.
On the way we had a great chat about her experience working at Disney and a variety of other subjects. It was such a wonderful surprise and a perfect example of how cast members go the extra mile to make sure things go smoothly.
I first took my family to Disneyland in 2002 and I have come back every year since.
I am always amazed at all the wonderful cast members that give that extra magic, the kindness and care everyday and in hundreds of ways. The first year we went, our 4-year-old son had a sensitivity to wheat, so finding food for him without wheat was a major problem and severely limited the variety of food he could eat.
What stands out is that when we went to the Carnation Cafe and explained the situation to the waiter, he came back with a plate (I think we ordered the PB and J without the bread) the chef had specially prepared to with some celery and carrot sticks in place of the bread. The chef didn't need to do that, we hadn't thought of asking for that. It was just another case of a cast member going a little farther to make life just a little bit better for my little boy. The head chef even came out to talk to us and treated us like family.
As you might guess, the Carnation Cafe is on our list of "must do" activities when we go to the park.
Last August, I was thrilled to have a chance to pay back, in a small way, some of the magic cast members have given my family. It happened when my wife and I went to Disneyland to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and stopped for lunch at the Carnation Cafe. Our reservation time was for, I believe, 10:45 a.m. We arrived a few minutes early and the hostess kindly informed us that they were switching over from the breakfast to lunch menu and it would be a few moments till they would seat us.
At exactly 10:45, a lady came and stated that she had a reservation. When the hostess told her it would be a few moments the lady came unglued! She started yelling that they had made reservations for 10:45 and demanded that they be sat immediately! I was so proud of the cast member, she kept her cool as the lady kept up her verbal venting.
I could tell that this poor cast member could use a boost after that lady's diatribe, so I walked over to talk to her, I told her that I thought that the Carnation Cafe was the best place to eat at Disneyland, that the cast members were the best and kindest, I told her about how they had helped my son all those years ago and that it was well worth any wait. What I said was heartfelt, and I know the cast member appreciated it.
I would like to challenge everyone who has felt the magic to try and pay it back a little by being courteous back to the cast members. People need to remember that they have feelings, too, and appreciate a "thank you" for their efforts as much as anyone.
In a trip to Magic Kingdom in January 2007, we stopped at Sleepy Hollow for some funnel cakes and popcorn right after the Wishes fireworks display.
We were Disney Resort guests, and were about to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. I had been toting a backpack around that had nearly everything in it: spending money, bottles of water, cell phones digital camera, you name it. As we left from Sleepy Hollow, we headed toward the Haunted Mansion. Just as we were about to enter, I realized I had left the backpack at the table we were eating at back at Sleepy Hollow.
I scrambled out of line and rushed back to the diner, and looked for it right where we had been sitting and my heart sank as it wasn't there. That's when, out of the nowhere, a Cast Member named Bill (from Nigeria, I believe) came toward me with a big smile and asked, "You miss your backpack, sir?" (If you imagine a thick native African accent, it really completes the picture) I exhaustedly said, "Yes!"
He took me over to a place right behind the tables and said "I save it for you here!", still smiling, of course.
I thanked him immensely and he said over and over again, "No problem, no problem" as I was walking off. To make things more interesting, there were a few other diners who were witnessing this whole scenario unfold, and began applauding him after he had handed me the backpack.
As I went to meet up with the rest of the gang at the exit of Haunted Mansion, not only was that quick-thinking cast member a life (and money) saver, but he was so kind and I'll never forget that big toothy grin and his extremely positive attitude, it really made the night special!
We know there are a lot of issues that come up as a cast member, and some CMs might think no one is listening. Well ... we are! So feel free to send us your tips and ideas for your fellow CMs or for the Disney casting department (on both coasts).